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Adjunct Professor of History, the University of Texts 

Reprinted from the Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association , 

. No. 2 (October, 1905). 


Reprinted from the Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, 
Vol. IX. No. 2 (October, 1905). 

OF EAST TEXAS, 1773-1779. 1 

I! i:iir.i:i; T i:. BOLTON. 

In K7\? tin- Spanish government decided to give back to nature 
and the Indians, temporarily at least, all that part of Texas north- 
east of San Antonio de B.'-xar and IV-ihia del Ksjiirilu Santo, some 
parts of which Spain had occupied, continuously even if weakly, 
for more than half a century. That this plan failed was due pri- 
marily to the attachment of some of the settlers of the district 
to their homos ; to tin- desire of the provincial authorities to main- 

! Bmi.i(><n<.\i'iiu \i \. .IK. This paper, with the exception of the first two 
subdivisions of section I. which arc based mainly on secondary authori- 
ties, has been prepared almost entirely from manuscript materials hith- 
erto unused, found in the Archive Ceneral y Publico .>f Mexico and in 
the BSxar Archives in the possession of the University of Texas. The 
principal documents used are the following: 

1. Expediente sobre proposiciones del Governador de Texas Baron de 
Ripperda, para ereccion de un Nuevo Precidio, y Emprender una cruda 
Guerra contra los Apaches Lipanes, hacienda Alianza con las Naciones 
del Nortte. MS. Folios 107. The papers included cover the years 1771- 

2. Autos que se ban introducido por los Vecinos del Presidio de los 
Adaes, Sobre que les deje avecindar en el de la Mision de los Ais, y 
establecimto. del Pueblo de Xuestra Senora del Pilar de Bucareli. MS. 
Folios 22. The papers fall within the years 1773-1774. 

3. Quaderno que Corresponde para el completto del Expediente se- 
fialado con el Numo. 1 [number 2 above] remetido con fehca 31 del 

68 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

tain an influence over the Indian tribes of East Texas, as a make- 
weight against the hostile Apache and Comanche Indians and 
against Spain's new neighbors, the English; and to the temporiz- 
ing and double policy of the viceroy. The story of the re- 
moval of the Spanish settlers from the eastern frontier in pur- 
suance of this plan and of their early return and its sanction by 
the local government, regardless of the royal policy, is not without 
human interest nor without importance in the history of the Span- 
ish occupation of the Southwest. 


In order to understand why Spain thus voluntarily resolved to 
relinquish her hold upon so vast and so rich a stretch of country, 
it is necessary to examine briefly conditions existing at the time 

proximo pasado Marzo del corriente afio. MS. Folios 53. The papers 
fall within the years 1773-1774. 

4. Expediente Sobre que el Vecindario del Pueblo de Ntra. Sefiora del 
Pilar de Bucareli se le destine Parroco, por cuenta de la Real Hacienda. 
MS. Folios 21. The papers are dated 1775-1779. 

5. Los Vecinos del extinguido Presidio, y Pobla^ion de los Adais, 
hasta el Numero de Sesenta y tres, que sin estableoimiento alguno se 
hayan agregados al de San Antonio de Bexar, y Villa de San Fernando; 
Sobre que atendiendo al infeliz . estado, en que han quedado, por haber 
abandonado sus Casas y Tierras; y ft fidelidad, con que han servido, y 
estan, prontas, a continuar sirviendo a S. M. en aquella Fronttera, se les 
conceda por el Sefior Governador en Gefe, Comandante General alguno 
establecimiento para que puedan Subsistir con sus Familias. MS. Folios 
32. The papers fall within the period 1778-1779. 

6. Represertacion del Justicia de la Poblacion de Nuestra Senora del 
Pilar de Bucareli; Sobre livertad de Diezmos para aquellos Moradores. 
MS. Folios 10. The correspondence falls within the period 1777-1778. 

7. Expediente sobre el abandono del Pueblo de Nuestra SeSora del 
Pilar de Bucareli: Quaderno 5. MS. Folios 53. Period covered, 1778- 

8. Expediente sobre el abandono del Pueblo de Bucarely, y establecer 
Comercio con los Yndios Gentiles del Nortte. Quaderno 6. MS. Folios 
46. Period covered, 1780-1782. Number 7 is cited in this article as 
"Expediente sobre el abandono,'' and number 8 as "Expediente sobre el 
abandono . . . y establecer Comercio." 

All of the above documents are collected in volume LI of Secci6n de 
Historia of the Archivo General. The original papers of which No. 1 is 
a copy are in volume XX of the Secci6n de Provincial Internas. Num- 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 69 

along the north Mexican border as a whole, and more particularly 
those on the Texas-Louisiana frontier. 

I. Indian troubles in the frontier provinces. At the middle of 
the eighteenth century it seemed as if most of what had been ac- 
complished for civilization in northern Mexico through the 
bravery and religious zeal of the Spaniards was about to be de- 
stroyed by Indian revolts within and Indian attacks from without. 
Nearly all along the northern frontier from Sonora to Texas the 
interior tribes were becoming less docile and those outside more 

In Sonora the chief trouble was from within. In 1751 the 
Pimas living near the head of the Gulf of California revolted 
under their native leader, Don Luis, destroyed most of the Span- 
ish missions, pueblos, and ranches in and near the valley of the 
Altar Kiver, and drove out many of the settlers., After several 

bers 2 and 3, as contained in volume LI, were copied from copies con- 
tained in volume XCIII of Seccifin de Historia. 

9. Consulta del Sor. Comandante Gral. de las Provas. de Oriente sob re 
solicitud que han hecho los Yndios Horcoquisac, Atacapaces, Vidais, y 
Cocos, pidiendole se establesca la Mision del Orcoquisac: sobre que se 
separe del empleo de Tente. de Governador ft Don Antonio Gil Ybarbo, 
etc. MS., 1788. In Volume XCIII, Secci6n de Historia, Archivo General. 

10. Expediente sobre la dolosa y fingida paz de las Naciones del Norte; v 
y comercio ilicito de los Franceses de la Nueba Orleans. MS. Folios 48. 
A copy is contained in Volume XCIII of Secci6n de Historia, Archivo 

II. Correspondence of Governors Ripper dft and Cabello concerning 
Texas, in volumes XCIX and C of Secci6n de Provincias Internas. Orig- 
inal MS. 

12. Derrotero, Diario. y Calculacion de leguas, que en descubrimiento 
por derecho desde esta Provincia del Nueva Mexico hasta el Fuerte de 
Natchitoches y la de los Texas, de orden superior voy a practicar en 
compania de Dn. Pedro Vial, comisionado a esta proposito, yo el abajo y 
lo ultimo firmado, Francisco Xavier Fragoso. Villa de Santa F6, veinte y 
quatro de Junio de mil setecientos ochenta y ocho. Sighed also by Pedro 
Vial. Document No. 17, volume XLIII, SecciCn de Historia, Archivo 
General. MS. 

13. Reglamento 6 instruccion para los presidios que se han de formar 
en la llnea de frontera de la Nueva Espana. Resuelto por el rey en cdula 
de 10 de setimebre de 1772,, in Arrillaga, Recopilacion de leyes, Decretos, 
Bandos, Reglamentos, Circular es y Providencias de los Supremos Poderes 
de los Estados-Unidos Mexicanos, etc. (Mexico, 1835) Vol. IX, 139-189. 
Printed first in Madrid, 1772. 

70 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

months of fighting and diplomacy quiet was restored, but the In- 
dians continued threatening, and a blight rested upon the once 
flourishing Spanish establishments. Further south, in the same 
province, the Seri Indians soon afterwards destroyed the new mis- 
sion at Guaymas, and for several years held the place against the 
Spaniards. Peace made with the tribe only by extravagant prom- 
ises was soon broken, and war continued, greatly to the discour- 
agement of colonization and missionary work in the region south 
of the Altar. Northeastern Sonora suffered from raids by Apaches 
from the Gila country. These attacks, if not so continuous as the 
disturbances caused by the near-by Pimas and Seris, were even 
more disastrous because of the great numbers of the invaders. 

In what is now Chihuahua then northern Nueva Viscaya the 
devastation was perhaps somewhat less than in Sonora, but, never- 
theless, there was general complaint there that the Spanish estab- 
lishments were constantly exposed to destruction by the Apaches 
and renegade mission Indians, while the unconquered savages of 
Bolson de Mapimi infested the line of travel northward to Parral. 

In New Mexico the Yutes, Apaches, and Comanches, all or sev- 
erally, gave trouble nearly every year. In 1746 the last-named 
tribe had made an unusually violent attack upon Pecos, Galisteo, 
and other places, causing considerable loss of life along with the 
destruction of property. This outrage was followed in succeeding 
years by wars of vengeance that greatly disturbed the peace and 
the prosperity of the community. 

In spite of the exceptional prosperity of Nuevo Santander at this 
time, 1 it and Coahuila, like Chihuahua and Texas, suffered from 
both apostate mission Indians and invading Apaches. The dan- 
ger from the Apaches seems everywhere to have been less to human 
life than to property. The chief resources of the northern Span- 

J It was between 1748 and 1751 that the province of Nuevo Santander, 
which lay south of Ooahuila and Texas, was so successfully conquered 
and colonized by Jose" de Escand6n. Notwithstanding the general pros- 
perity of the province, however, which was quite out of keeping with con- 
ditions in the northern provinces as a whole, it was necessary to organize 
in 1757 a general campaign against troublesome Indians. By means of 
this campaign some of the natives were reduced to mission life, and some 
were driven into Coahuila or across the Rio Grande (Prieto, Historia, 
Geografia Estadistica del Estado de Tamaulipas; Bancroft, Mexico. Ill, 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 71 

ish settlers were their droves and herds of horses, mules, cattle, 
and small stock, and to steal these was the main object of the 
Apache raids. Treacherous to the last degree, these Indians 
would enter a village or presidio in the guise of friendship, and 
upon leaving run off all the stock of the place. As the Apaches 
were pushed south by their inveterate enemies, the Comanches, 
such thieveries, not always unattended by murder, occurred with 
increasing frequency, to the utter despair of many of the frontier 

The Texas settlements, particularly San Antonio de Bexar and 
Bahia del Espiritu Santo, had long been infested by the thieving 
Apaches and Karankawas, and now one section of the prov- 
ince was beset by a more blood-thirsty enemy, the Comanches. 
This tribe was first heard of in Texas in 1743. They did no seri- 
ous damage until 1758, but in March of that year they, in con- 
junction with a number of northeastern tribes, who had hitherto 
given no trouble, attacked and burned the newly founded mission 
at San Saba, on the San Saba River, murdered some of the mis- 
sionaries and soldiers, set fire to the stockade of the presidio and 
drove off part of the stock. The occasion assigned for this attack 
was that the San Saba mission was designed to minister to the 
Apaches, mortal enemies of the Comanches. The presidials were 
terrified, they clamored for a removal to another site, and were only 
with difficulty kept from deserting. In the following year Colonel 
Parilla went out with five hundred men to punish the Indians, but 
instead he suffered an ignominious defeat. In the country of the 
Taovayases his troops were attacked by a large body of the allies, 
before whom they fled, leaving behind them baggage and artillery. 1 
This victory over the Spaniards, which for more than a decade went 
unpunished, served to lessen the prosperity of the none too flourish- 
ing Texas settlements. The Comanches and other northern tribes 
continued to trouble the presidio of San Saba and even sought the 
Apaches in the neighborhood of Bexar. 2 

This condition of affairs called forth numerous reports from 

'See on page 108 a reference to the cannon left by Parilla. 

2 This section is based upon Bancroft's Mexico (Vol. Ill), his North Mean- 
can States and Texas (Vol. I), and his Arizona and New Mexico; Prieto, 
Historia, Geografia y Estadistica del Estado de Tamaulipas; Bonilla, 
Breve Co-mpendio; the royal Reglamento e instrucion of 1772 (see biblio- 

72 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

officials concerning the Indian depredations, and numerous ap- 
peals from the settlers for protection. These reports and appeals 
came to the notice of the king and he, in 1753, enjoined the 
viceroy to take the matter in hand. Nothing being done, in 1756 
the king commissioned the Marques de Rubi, a Spanish field-mar- 
shal, to inspect and make a report upon all the defences of the 
interior provinces. The usual delay ensued, and it was ten years 
before Rubi actually began his tour of inspection. But finally, in 
March, 1766, he left Mexico City, accompanied by his engineer, 
Nicolas de la Fora, and passed through one province after another, 
arriving in Texas in August, 1767. 1 The results of this visit are 
told further on. 

2. The cession of Louisiana to Spain, 1762. At the same time 
that a demand was growing for stronger defences along the fron- 
tier as a whole, there came a change that temporarily lessened the 
strain on the northeastern Texas border. This change was the 
cession of Louisiana by France to Spain in 1762, at the close of 
the long struggle in America known as the French and Indian 

The proximity of the French had from the first been the char- 
acteristic motive for maintaining Spanish settlements in East 
Texas. News of La Salle's fortification on Matagorda Bay was 
what led Spain, after more than a century and a half s inactivity, 
to found in 1690 the first mission in Texas. Mission San Fran- 
cisco de los Texas, as the establishment was called, was placed 
far to the east, near the Neches River. This mission and another 
that was founded soon after, being abandoned, it required new 
French encroachments, in the form of San Denis's trading ex- 
pedition across Texas (1714-1715) to bring the Spanish back to 
the frontier. Whatever may have been the designs of San Denis 
or of the government behind him, the Spanish authorities feared 
danger, and proceeded again to secure a foot-hold in the country 
threatened. An expedition sent out in 1715 re-established the 

graphical notes, page 69) ; and a report made in 1784 by Domingo Cabello, 
governor of Texas, on the Indian affairs of Coahuila and Texas. 

^Bonilla, Breve Compendia (Translation by Elizabeth Howard West in 
THE QUARTERLY, VIII, 59. All of my citations of the Breve Compendia 
are to this translation) ; Cavo, Los Tres Siglos de Mexico (Mexico, 1835- 
1838), II, 184. 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 73 

Texas mission, founded five new ones in the vicinity, and placed 
a garrison at Presidio de los Texas, or Dolores. All of these new 
missions were nearer the French frontier than San Francisco, the 
first one, while one of them, San Miguel de Linares, was beyond 
the Sabine Eiver, squarely in front of the French post at Natchi- 

The frontier military policy thus begun by establishing Presidio 
de los Texas, was developed by war between France and Spain. 
A French attack on Pensacola in 1719 was followed by the flight 
of the frightened Spanish garrison and missionaries from the 
frontier to Bexar. As soon as possible the Marques de San Miguel 
de Aguayo was sent (1721) to recover the province and to 
strengthen its defences. He re-established the abandoned mis- 
sions and Presidio de los Texas, built a new presidio called Pilar 
de los Adaes near Mission San Miguel, and garrisoned it with a 
hundred soldiers. 

While the defences of the northeast had thus been first pro- 
vided and later strengthened to guard against the danger of French 
encroachment, one of the principal reasons for weakening them 
again was an official opinion that this fear was unfounded. In 
1727-28 General Pedro de Rivera inspected all of the Texas pre- 
sidios; and, at the request of the viceroy, reported the changes that 
he thought should be made in them. Among these recommenda- 
tions one was that, since the Indians of the northeast were peace- 
ful, Presidio de Ids T6xas was unnecessary and should be aban- 
doned; and another was that, since the danger from the French 
garrison at Natchitoches was very slight, the Spanish guard at 
Adaes was unnecessarily large, and should be reduced from one 
hundred to sixty soldiers. These recommendations were carried 
out a year later. One result of this change was that the Quere- 
taran friars, whose missions depended on Presidio de los T6xas, 
moved their missions to San Antonio de Bexar (1731). This 
left on the frontier the presidio of Pilar de los Adaes and the mis- 
sions at Adaes, Los Ais, and Nacogdoches. 

For a score or more of years no important change was made in 
East Texas, but the chief matters of interest there were a dispute 
over the boundary between Spanish and French territory and 
complaints about French smuggling on the border. The increase 
of this species of trade along the Trinity led to the establishment 

74 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

about 1755 of a new presidio on that river, which, after two re- 
movals was located at Orcoquisac, the site of the mission of Nues- 
tra Sefiora de la Luz, near the present town of Liberty. 1 
>/ It is thus seen that fear of the French, in one form or an- 
other, had from the very beginning been a decisive factor in the 
Spanish policy on the Texas-Louisiana frontier. But in 1762 
came the cession of Louisiana to Spain, and it was felt that danger 
from the French was largely removed. This transfer gave Spain 
England instead of France for a neighbor, and, as the English 
settlements were as yet far distant, they were less feared for the 
present than had been the French settlements of Louisiana while 
subject to a foreign power. This alteration of French relations 
just at the time of especial stress all along the rest of the frontier 
of New Spain helpr to explain the radical change that was now 
made in the Spanish policy in East Texas. 

3. Rubi's inspection and recommendations. JWhat the Marqu6s 
de Eubi saw when at last he made his inspection was recorded in 
the diary kept and the map made by Nicolas de la Fora and in 
the dictamen, pr opinion, which Eubi himself sent later to the 
government. 2 With respect to the frontier in general, Rubi re- 
ported in detail the bad condition of affairs which has been briefly 

*See Garrison, Texas, 'chs. Ill, IV, V, VIII ; Bonilla, Breve Compendia, 
in THE QUARTERLY, VIII, 12-59; R. C. Clark, "The Beginnings of Texas," 
Ibid., V, and his "Luis Juchereau de San Denis and the Re-establishment 
of the T6jas Missions," Ibid., VI, 1-26; Mattie Alice Austin, "The 
Municipal Government of San Fernando de Bejar," Ibid., VIII. My opin- 
ion as to the location of Orcoquisac is based on the La Fora map (see 
next note) and a map drawn by Gil Ybarbo in 1777 (see page 118). 

'The diary kept by la Flora was entitled Viage del ingeniero a Sta F 
(1766, MS., in what Bancroft calls the Pinart Collection. See Bancroft, 
Arizona and New Mexico, 258, note.) I have not had access to this diary. 
A copy of the map, if not the original, was once in volume V of Secci6n 
de Historia, Archive General. I find a statement to this effect in some 
notes made by Father Talamantes, and the evidence of its having been 
torn out is still visible in the volume. Bancroft knew of the existence of 
this map, but was unable to find it (see his Arizona and New Mexico, 258, 
note). I fortunately found a photograph of it in the possession of the 
noted scholar, Mrs. Zelia Nuttall, of Coyuacan, Mexico, who generously 
allowed me to copy it. The tradition is, I believe, that the map was 
taken from its place -by some one connected with Maximilian's govern- 
ment. A copy of the part of the Dictamen bearing on Texas is contained 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 75 

indicated hereinbefore. 1 What he found in Texas, which is our 
chief conpern here, was, when viewed as the results of three- 
quarters of a century's occupation, discouraging enough. Beyond 
San Antonio de Bexar toward the northeast the nearest Spanish 
establishment was the mission at Nacogdoches, across the Neches 2 
River, administered by one missionary, but without a resident 
Indian, either converted or under instruction. A few leagues 
further on was the mission at Los Ais, with a few ranches round 
about. Here lived two missionaries in the same inactivity as those 
at Nacogdoches, without a single Indian upon whom to "exercise 
their calling." 3 

On the Louisiana frontier, seven leagues from Natchitoches, 
were the mission and presidio of Adaes. At this mission, like 
the others without neophytes, were two missionaries. The presidio 
was garrisoned by sixty soldiers, who, with the Indians in. the 
neighborhood peaceful and Louisiana a Spanish province, had 
nothing to do. Round about the presidio in a village and on ranches 
was a declining population of some thirty families. Toward the 
south, on the eastern bank of the Trinity, "amid a thousand mis- 
fortunes and inconveniences," was the presidio of Orcoquisac, with 
a company of thirty-one soldiers and an imaginary mission with 
two padres. Though an attempt had been made to establish a 
colony there, the place had no citizen population. Finally, north 
of Bexar, at San Saba, now outside the limits of Texas, was a small 
garrison of soldiers, at the mercy of the Comanches and their 
allies, as had recently been proved. 

Here, then, said Rubi, was a stretch of country beyond. Bexar 
several hundred miles wide over which Spain claimed dominion, 

in "Quaderno que Corresponde," Vol. 51, Secci6n de Historia, Archive 
General (see bibliographical note, page 67). This is the only part of it 
that I have seen or have been able to locate. 

Bancroft, North Mexican States and Texas, I, 585, 629-630. 

*It may be a matter of interest to know that the favorite and almost 
invariable form of spelling the name of this river in the documents on 
which this study is based is Nechcts. 

Reference to page will show that a few baptisms were made at these 
missions as late as the time when Rubl made his inspection. 

76 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

but which was crossed by only two rude paths, and occupied by 
only three small garrisons, a handful of impoverished settlers, and 
four useless missions. 1 

As a general result of his inspection, which revealed to him 
some establishments stagnant and useless and others without de- 
fence, Rubi concluded what ought to have been seen long before 
that Spain was trying to spread over too much ground, and that 
a wise policy for her to pursue would be to distinguish between 
her true and her "imaginary" dominions, and to sacrifice the lat- 
ter to the former. 2 

Consistently with this conclusion, he made some far-reaching 
recommendations. The central one was to rearrange the frontier 
presidios in such a way as to form a cordon of fifteen strongholds 
placed at regular intervals between Bahia del Espiritu Santo, in 
Texas, and the head of the Gulf of California, with San Antonio 
de Bexar and Santa Fe as outposts. This line he considered the 
true frontier of New Spain, upon the defence of which all efforts 
should be concentrated. 8 

This central recommendation involved radical changes in Texas. 
Those parts of the province that lay beyond San Antonio de Bexar 
he regarded as only "imaginary possessions," and he believed 
that, considering the pressing need elsewhere, they should be aban- 
doned. San Saba, he said was at the mercy of the Comanches 
and their allies, Orcoquisac was at best of little use, and Adaes 
was bringing to a close a career that had been unfortunate 
from the outset. His first recommendation immediately affecting 
Texas was, therefore, that San Saba be deserted ; that the presidio 
and mission of Orcoquisac be either extinguished or removed to a 
place somewhere in the neighborhood of Bexar and Bahia del 
Espiritu Santo; and that Adaes either be annexed to the govern- 
ment of Louisiana, or that it be extinguished and the settlers 
there brought near Bexar, or if they preferred, allowed to settle 
somewhere in Louisiana. 4 

'Rubf, Dictamen, section 25. 


Bancroft, North Mexican States and Texas, I, 585; Rubi, Dictamen, 
section 17. 

4 Dictamen, sections 17, 20, 25. The proposals are not given in the or- 
der of the document, but rather in that determined by the view-point of 
this paper. 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 77 

Rubf s next proposal was to strengthen the defences of San 
Antonio de Bexar and increase the population in its neighborhood. 
By abandoning the northeastern settlements, Bexar would be 
left, he said, the frontier establishment of all the internal 
provinces distant, indeed, more than fifty leagues from the 
nearest of the presidios in the proposed cordon. Being thus 
isolated, it would still be in its present danger from the Apache- 
Comanche wars. The thieving Lipan Apaches 1 living between 
Bexar and the Rio Grande would not only continue to be 
unpleasant neighbors themselves, but they would still attract to 
the settlements their enemies, the Comanches and their allies. 
Moreover, if the Comanches; now dangerous only to San Saba, 
as the friend of the Apaches, should ever invade the interior, a 
circumstance not to be expected, 2 Bexar would become the chief 
object of their attacks. These considerations led him even 
to suggest withdrawing the villa of San Fernando and the costly 
and imposing but decadent missions at Bexar to the Rio Grande, 
in the shelter of the projected line of presidios. Refraining, how- 
ever, from so radical a proposal, he advised that a fortification 
should be built to protect the citizens of the villa of San Fernando, 
adjacent to the presidio of Bexar, and that the garrison of the 
presidio should be increased from twenty-three to eighty men by 
bringing to Bexar the soldiers from San Saba, Adaes, and Orco- 
quisac, unless the last should be needed at Bahia del Espiritu Santo. 
The governor, residing at Bexar, should, he thought, be made com- 
mander of the presidio of San Juan Bautista, on the Rio Grande, 
which might be moved nearer Bexar if circumstances de- 
manded it. Since fear of Indians had been the chief obstacle 
to the growth of population, he predicted that such a strengthen- 
ing of the defence of Bexar would make it possible to colonize 
in its vicinity on a considerable scale. 8 

With regard to the Apaches, who were, as we have seen, troubling 

x The branch of the Apaches who were infesting Texas were the Lipans, 
commonly called the Lipan Apaches. 

2 Rubi reflected the fears of some when he said that he could not sub- 
scribe to the opinion that the Indians might be incited by the European 
neighbors of Spain toward the northeast to invade the interior Spanish 
provinces (Dictamen, section 17). 

Dictamen, section 17. 

78 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

the frontier from Chihuahua to Texas, and the settlements of 
Coahuila and Texas in particular, Rubi declared mercy to be ill- 
timed, and maintained that since the Comanches came to the set- 
tlements only in pursuit of the Apaches, danger from the Co- 
manches and their allies would cease as soon as the Apaches should 
be exterminated. He recommended, therefore, that Apaches should 
no longer be admitted to the shelter of the missions and presidios, 
where they would only prove their treachery, but that a vigorous 
war should be waged against them, and that, when conquered, 
the tribe should be dissolved and the captives taken to the interior 
of Mexico. 1 

Turning his attention to the Gulf coast policy, he said, contrary 
to the opinions of some, that it was impossible, even if necessary, to 
occupy the Texas part of that coast by land because of its inac- 
cessibility from the Gulf and of its bad climatic conditions. He ad- 
vised, therefore, that the presidio of Bahia del Espiritu Santo 
should remain where it was, on the San Antonio River, for these 
reasons as well as to protect the well-stocked ranches already es- 
tablished there and the people whom it was proposed to remove 
thither from the eastern frontier. 2 

Rubi realized that there would be no lack of persons to call him 
unpatriotic in suggesting so enormous a diminution of the kings 
dominion; but he reminded such that the Spanish hold upon East 
Texas was so slight as to be only nominal; that relinquishing this 
.shadowy grasp would be off -set by a saving of forty-four thousand 
pesos a year; and that the spiritual and the political losses would 
be slight. On these points he said: <r With respect to the conver- 
sion of the unfaithful, not a Christian or a neophyte, . . . 
will be lost on the day when the four missions are suppressed; 
and with respect to the protection of our real dominions, by re- 
tiring this figurative frontier of two hundred leagues and more, 
we shall substitute for this weak barrier one that is being more 
respectably constituted on the Colorado [Red] and Missouri Rivers, 
since the present governor of that colony [Louisiana] 

'Dictamen, section 26; Bonilla, Breve Compendia, 61; Garrison, Texas, 
91. A few years after this time, Governor RipperdS. recommended using 
the northern nations as allies in the war against the Apaches (Bonilla, 
Breve Compendia, 66). See also, post, p. 92. 

! Dictamen, section 19. 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texan. 79 

much more according to the intentions of the king, impedes com- 
munication and traffic between it and the dominions of this 
realm." 1 

We should not, of course, regard these proposals of the Marques 
de Rubi as a recommendation that Spain should relinquish her 
title to the territory in question, or that she should never under- 
take to occupy it, for they were conditioned by the fact that beyond 
Texas lay another possession nominally Spanish, which, in a sense, 
made Texas an interior province. But they did mean that Rubi 
considered that for a long time to come, at least, it would be useless 
for Spain to try to colonize or to exercise any real control in the 
country between Louisiana and San Antonio de Bexar; and the 
adoption of these recommendations by the king was, on the part of 
the central government, a confession of the same sort. 


1. The royal order of 1772. Rubi's report passed to the hands 
of the king, and, after the usual deliberate course of Spanish leg- 
islation, the monarch issued, on September 10, 1772, an order 
popularly known as the "New Regulation of Presidios." 2 This 
was practically an adoption of Rubi's proposals, with the supple- 
mentary legislation requisite to carry them into effect. 3 

We have seen that the central point of Rubi's plan was to con- 

^ictamen, section 25. 

2 Reglamento e" instruccion para los presidios que han de formar en 
la linea de frontera de la Nueva Espafia. Resuelto por el Hey en cfidula 
de 10 de Setiembre de 1772. First printed in Madrid, 1772. The copy of 
the document which I have used is in Arrillaga, Recopilacion de Leyes, 
decretos, Bandos, Keglamcntos, Circulares y Providencias de los Supremos 
Poderes de los Estados-Unidos Mexicanos, etc. (Mexico, 1835), IX, ISO- 
ISO. I have unfortunately been unable thus far to find any records re- 
vealing the inner process by which this legislation was brought about. 

S 0n the changes made on the northern frontier in consequence of this 
royal order, see, besides, the authorities already cited, Revillagigedo's 
Ta^orme de Abril, 1793 (in Oavo, Tres Siglos, III, 112), and his Carta 
de 27 de Diciembre, in Dicoionario Universal de Historia y de Geografia, 
V, 426 (Mexico, 1853-1856, 4to 10 Vols., and Madrid, 1846-1850, 4to 8 
Vols.) ; Velasco, Sonora, Its Extent, etc. (San Francisco, 1861) ; Escudero, 
Noticias Estadisticas de Sonora y Sinaloa (Mexico, 1849). 

80 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

centrate effort upon the defence of what he considered the real 
possessions of New Spain. To do this it was necessary to place the 
fortifications in such relations that one could support another, and 
near enough together to prevent hostile Indians breaking through 
the intervening spaces. Accordingly, the royal order provided that 
the fifteen frontier presidios should be placed forty leagues apart 
in an irregular line extending from Altar, near the head of the 
Gulf of California, as the westernmost, to Bahia del Espiritu 
Santo, on the San Antonio Eiver in Texas, as the easternmost. 
The intermediate presidios of the line, named in order from west 
to east, were to be Tubac, Terrenate, Fronteras, Janos, San Buena- 
ventura, Paso del Norte, Guajoquilla^ Julimes, Cerrogordo, San 
Saba, Monclova, and San Juan Bautista. Of these only three, 
Janos, San Juan Bautista, and Bahia del Espiritu Santo, were to 
remain unmoved. 1 

From the outposts, Santa Fe and San Antonio de Bexar, re- 
spectively, Kobledo, twenty leagues above El Paso, and Arroyo del 
Cibolo, between San Antonio de Bexar and Bahia del Espiritu 
Santo, were to be garrisoned. 2 

The force at San Antonio de Bexar was to be increased to the 
size recommended by Kubi, by bringing the requisite number of 
soldiers from Adaes and Orcoquisac; Santa Fe was likewise 
to have eighty soldiers, Bahia del Espiritu Santo fifty-one, 
and the rest of the presidios of the line forty-six each. 3 The pre- 
sidio of San Saba, instead of being extinguished, as Rubi had sug- 
gested, was to be removed to the banks of the Rio Grande, 
while those of Adaes and Orcoquisac, with their missions, were to 
be suppressed. The families v at Adaes and Los Ais were to be 
brought to the vicinity of Bexar and given lands. 

'The map made by de la Fora (see page 74) was the one by which the 
king's advisers were guided in drawing up the "New Regulation" (Arril- 
laga, Recopilacion, IX, 172). For the location of most of these pre- 
sidios before they were changed, see maps in Bancroft, North Mexican 
States and Texas, I, 251, 310, 377, 381. 

2 Reglamento e instruccion, title "Instruccion para la nueva colocacion 
de presidios," Sec. 1. 

8 At each of the other presidios there were to be kept ten Indian ex- 
plorers, but as it was thought that there were no Indians near Bahia suit- 
able for this purpose, that place was to have five additional soldiers ( Regla- 
mento e instruccion, Titulo Segundo, in Arrillaga, Recopilacion, IX, 142). 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 81 

To secure a more uniform and efficient military service on the 
frontier, the order provided for a new general officer, the inspector 
comandante of the interior provinces of New Spain. He must 
be a person of at least the rank of colonel, and might not, 
while inspector, be a provincial governor or a presidial captain. 
He was put directly under orders from the viceroy, but in case a 
comandante general of the interior provinces should ever be ap- 
pointed, he was to be directly subject to that officer. To aid him 
in the discharge of his duties two assistant inspectors were pro- 
vided. These duties were primarily to keep the viceroy informed 
of presidial and military affairs, direct frontier campaigns, and 
supervise the presidios and presidial officers. Either he or his as- 
sistants must make an annual inspection of each of the presidios 
and report to the viceroy. x 

The office of inspector comnmlnnte was filled by the appoint- 
ment of Dn. Hugo Oconor, who had recently served as governor of 
Texas ad interim. Of his career there Bonilla, author of the 
Breve Compendia, wrote, "Oconor attained the glorious distinc- 
tion of leaving an immortal name in the province. He attested 
his valor, disinterested conduct, and military policy, he preserved 
peace \n the land, and he made himself an object of fear to the 
savages, who know him by the name of el Capitan Colorado [the 
Red Captain]." 1 Oconor chose for his assistants Antonio Bonilla, 
just quoted, and Dn. Roque Medina. 2 

'2. Oconor 's instructions to Ripperdd. The viceroy's instruc- 
tions to Oconor for carrying the new policy into effect were issued 
March 10, 1773, and on May 6, Oconor, from camp at Nuestra 
Senora del Carmen, despatched to Baron de TJipperda, then gov- 
ernor of Texas, orders for putting in force so much of the new 
plan as concerned his province. 3 Immediately upon receiving the 

l Breve Compendia, 62. 

2 The Breve Compendia was written before Bonilla Became Oconor's as- 

3 Ynstruccion Reservada que ban de tener presente el Colonel de Caval- 
lerla Baron de Riperda Governador de la Prova. de texas para la practica 
en los dos Presidios de alia del nuebo Reglamto. qe. su Magd. se ha servido 
expedir en Diez de Septre. del Ano proximo pasado, y demas puntos que 
contiene, para el Govno. Politica de dha. Provincia dispuesta por mi Dn. 
Hugo Oconor, Coronel de Infanteria Comandte. Ynspector de las Pro- 

82 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

orders the governor was to go to the frontier and extinguish the 
two presidios and the four missions 1 condemned by Kubi, taking 
in charge the ornaments that had been given to the mission 
churches by the crown, 2 and removing to Bexar the garrisons, 
artillery, and munitions from the presidios, and whatever settlers 
might be found at any of the four places. The settlers were to be 
brought to the villa of San Fernando, given lands within the villa 
for building spots, and outside the villa for pasture and arable 
lands, and the privilege of making at their own expense an 
irrigating ditch from the San Antonio Kiver. 3 On returning to 
Bexar, he was to reorganize the garrison, choosing for the pre- 
scribed eighty men the best in all three of the companies at Adaes, 
Orcoquisac, and Bexar. Ripperda was to remain captain, Cordova 
and Oranday, lieutenants of the garrisons of Orcoquisac and 
Bexar, were to be lieutenants of the reformed company, while the 
aged lieutenant of Adaes, Jose Gonzalez, a veteran of some forty 
years' service at the same place, was to be retired with other super- 
annuated and useless soldiers. The company at Bexar having 
been reorganized, a detachment of twenty men was to be sent at 
once to Arroyo del Cibolo. 4 The purpose of garrisoning this place 
was to protect a number of ranches in the neighborhood, and to 
cover the long distance between Bexar and Bahia del Espiritu 
Santo. 6 



1. Ripperda on the frontier. These instructions reached the 
hands of Ripperda on May 18. He apparently did not favor the 

vincias de este Reyno de Nueva Espafia de Orden del Exmo. Sor. Fr. Dn. 
Antonio Maria Bucareli y Ursua, Virrey Governor, y Capitan General de 
ella (in Expediente sobre proposiciones, 79-90). 

x The official names of these missions were Nuestra Sefiora de Guadalupe 
de Nacogdoches, Nuestra Sefiora del Pilar de los Adaes, Nuestra Sefiora 
de los Dolores de los Ais, and Nuestra Sefiora de la Luz. 

2 The rest of the movables of the missions were to go to the College of 
Zacatecas, upon which the missions depended (Ynstruccion Reservada, 
Sec. 2). 

'Ynstruccion Reservada, Sees. 5-9. 

*Ibid, Sees. 10-15. 

'See note on Arroyo del Cfbolo, page 87. 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 83 

step about to be taken, as will be seen later on, but within a week, 
nevertheless, he set out for the frontier, going first to Adaes and 
returning by way of Nacogdoches. 1 It seems that, the garrison of 
Orcoquisac was already at Bexar, and that, therefore, Ripperda 
did not go to Orcoquisac. 2 As affairs at Bexar demanded his at- 
tention, he remained only eight days in the settlements, leaving 
the execution of his mission to Lieutenant Gonzalez, of the Adaes 

At mission Nacogdoches, where a large concourse of Indians 
was assembled, the governor was visited by the head chief of the 
Texas, Santo, or Vigotes, who had suspended hostilities with the 
Osages in order to entreat the Spaniards not to leave the frontier. 
Vigotes seem to have been moved to this solicitude in part by the 
fact that the Lipans were just then threatening hostilities. 3 
He undoubtedly knew, too, that the withdrawal of the Spaniards 
meant a decrease in the number of presents and in the available 
supply of firearms and other articles of trade. 

Contrary to Rubf s prediction that Adaes was bringing to a close 
its unfortunate career, since his visit six years before the place 
seems to have prospered, at least in so far as numbers are a sign of 
prosperity; for whereas in 1767 Rubi was able to report only about 
thirty families perhaps two hundred persons Ripperda esti- 
mated a population of more than five hundred, living near the 
presidio and on ranches round about Adaes and Los Ais. 4 These 

'Ripperda to the viceroy, May 28, 1773, and July 11, 1773, in Vol. 100, 
Pro vine ias Internas, Archivo General. 

l On his return from the frontier the governor mentioned finding Cap- 
tain Pacheeo, of the Orcoquisac garrison, at Bxar. A report made on 
Dec. 15, 1771, shows that at that time all of the garrison belonging to 
Orcoquisac, as well as fifty of the soldiers from Adaes, were in Bgxar. 
Whether the Orcoquisac garrison had remained there all this time I can 
not say. Ripperda may have gone to Adaes by way of Orcoquisac, which 
would account for the garrison reaching Bxar in advance of the gov- 
ernor (Ripperda to the viceroy, Dec. 15, 1771, and July 11, 1773, in Vol. 
TOO, Provincias Internas, Archivo General). 

/ 'Ripperda to the viceroy, July 11, 1773 (Letter No. 30, Vol. 100, Pro- 
vincias Internas, Archivo General). 


84 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

figures are fairly substantiated by other evidence. 1 The popula- 
tion was a mixture of Spanish, French, and Indians, and, perhaps, 
Negroes. Much of the recent growth seems to have been due to 
an influx, after Louisiana became a Spanish province, of French 
and half-breeds from Natchitoches, some of them Indian traders. 

2. Antonio Gil Ybarbo. The most prominent citizen of the 
vicinity was Antonio Gil Ybarbo, who becomes the central charac- 
ter of the remainder of this sketch. The few facts that we can 
gather of his previous career shed light upon conditions on the 
eastern frontier, and, viewed in connection with Ybarbo's subse- 
quent influence, upon the attitude of the government towards these 
conditions. Ybarbo was a native of Adaes, and at the time when 
this story opens he was about forty-four years old. 2 By his 
enemies he was reputed to be a mulatto. 3 Though his headquar- 
ters seem to have been at Adaes, he was the owner of and lived 
part of the time upon a large ranch, called El Lobanillo (the Mole 
or Wart), situated near the mission of Los Ais. The documents 
represent this ranch as "already a pueblo," and tell us that Ybarbo 
possessed there a large amount of stock. In addition to his ranch- 
ing interests he was also a trader, having for several years main- 
tained commercial relations, both at Adaes and El Lobanillo, with 
a wealthy French merchant, Nicolas de la Mathe, from Point 
Coupee, 4 Louisiana. 5 

*See page 89. 

2 According to a statement made by Ybarbo in 1792 he was then sixty- 
three years old. This would have made him about forty-four years old 
in 1773. See a census of Nacogdoches, dated at Bexar, Dec. 31, 1792, and 
signed by Ybarbo ( Bexar Archives ) . 

3 This statement is based on the assertion of Juan Ugalde, comandante 
general of the Eastern Internal Provinces, who was hostile to Ybarbo, and 
who, at the time he made the assertion, was trying to secure Ybarbo's 
removal from office (Ugalde to the viceroy, Oct. 30, 1788, in Consulta del 
Sr. Comandante GraL, etc., 9-11). 

*The Spanish documents render this name Punta Cortada or Puente 

"Quaderno que Corresponde, 9; testimony of Fr. Josef Francisco Mariano 
de la Garza, Nov. 14, 1787 (Bexar Archives). Garza was for several 
years in charge of spiritual affairs at Bucareli and Nacogdoches, and he 
knew Ybarbo well. His testimony was that of a warm supporter of 
Ybarbo, and was, therefore, not intended to be damaging in any way. 
For more about Father Garza, see pages 113-115; and about La Mathe, 
page 108. 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 85 

In view of the hostility of the Spanish government toward 
French trade among the Indians and of the chronic complaint 
about French smuggling on the border, Ybarbo's position might 
be regarded as a questionable one did we not have good reason to 
suspect that, in spite of a multitude of laws, such things were 
customarily winked at by the local officials and lightly regarded 
as a question of private morals. Once at least, however, Ybarbo's 
trading activities had got him into ' trouble. It was during the 
administration of Hugo Oconor, who, in some circles, had the un- 
usual reputation of having entirely put an end to contraband trade 
in Texas. 1 This official tells us that at one time Ybarbo had been 
imprisoned several months, in handcuffs, for complicity in the 
sale at Natchitoches and New Orleans of various droves of mules 
and horses stolen by the Indians from San Saba, Bexar, and 
Bahia. 2 Just what form the complicity took is not stated. 

Notwithstanding his questionable pursuits, he was prominent in 
the affairs of the locality, and was held in favor by Oconor's suc- 
cessor, the Baron de Ripperda. Because of his prominence, he was 
intrusted by Governor Ripperda, who had never seen him, with the 
administration of the funds for purchasing the presidial supplies, 
a responsibility which he is said to have discharged wisely and 
honest^. 3 Other indications of his good standing with the gov- 
ernor and of his influence in the affairs of Texas will appear as 
the story proceeds. 

3. Consternation among the settlers. As soon as he had arrived 
at Adaes, Ripperda had issued an order that within five days every 
one must be ready for the march to Bexar. 4 To the inhabitants 
this meant no less than expatriation. The love of home is deeply 
rooted in the human breast the more deeply the simpler the peo- 
ple. Many of these had been born and had spent all their lives 
in the place; some had personal ties across Arroyo Hondo in the 
French settlement or in the Indian villages ; and some had smaller 
or larger material interests in ranches and in Indian trade. 
It can not, therefore, cause surprise that the governor's order 

J See Expediente sobre la dolosa y fingida paz. 

2 Oconor to the viceroy, Dec. 31, 1775. Quaderno que Corresponde, 41. 
Testimony of Father Garza, Nov. 14, 1787 (BSxar Arhcives). 
4 Yl>arbo to Oconor, Jan. 8, 1774, in Quaderno que Corresponde, 6. 

86 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

v created a commotion. An extension of the time was asked and a 
few days were granted. 1 A number of persons, thirty-five accord- 
ing to the reports, refusing to be thus evicted, fled to the woods, 
Most of the inhabitants, however, prepared to obey the command, 
though apparently with bad grace in some cases, for complaint 
was made against Gonzalez that "when the day for leaving arrived 
he mounted a horse and went from house to house, driving the 
people from them/' 2 This, no doubt, reflects the unwillingness of 
the people to leave rather than any harshness on the part of the 
old officer. 

The sudden removal involved, of course, the abandonment of 
whatever permanent improvements the settlers had made, small 
in general though these doubtless were. The urgency of the order 
did not allow time for suitable preparation for the march. The 
people were without supplies sufficient for so long a journey. 
Their stock, of which they seem to have had considerable, was 
scattered, and much of it could not be collected. Corn was nearly 
ready for harvesting, but it had to be abandoned. Some things 
which could not be carried, including the gun carriages, some of 
the cannons, and the greater part of the ammunition, were buried 
within the presidio. , 3 

4. The journey to San Antonio de Bexar. On June 25, the 
da} r appointed, the weary three months' journey from Adaes to 
San Antonio de Bexar was begun. When the company reached 
Ybarbo's ranch at El Lobanillo, twenty-four persons dropped be- 
hind, some being too ill to travel, others staying to care for the sick. 
Several of these were of Ybarbo's family. His mother, sister, and 

^Ybarbo does not mention the request for or the granting of the ex- 
tension of time in his complaints about the hardships of the Adaesans. 
But RipperdS, (letter to the viceroy, July 11, 1773) says that such a re- 
quest was made and conceded, a statement that is borne out by other evi- 
dence. Ripperda left Bexar for Adaes on May 25th. He says he was 
twelve days going, eight days there, and twelve days returning. He must 
have arrived in Adaes, therefore, on June 6th, and left on the 14th. His 
final order required that Adaes be abandoned on June 26th (Letter No. 
30, Vol. 100, Provincias Internas, Archivo General). 

5 Ybarbo to Oconor, Jan. 8, 1774, in Quaderno que Corresponde, 6. 

"Ripperdd to the viceroy, Sept. 28, 1773, in Autos, 21-22; Ybarbo to 
Oconor, Jan. 8, 1774, in Quaderno que Corresponde, 6. 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 87 

sister-in-law were, it was represented, all unable to make the trip, 
and Ybarbo had secured from the governor a written permission 
to leave them,, and with them his son and another family. 1 These 
facts, considered in connection with subsequent events, lead one to 
suspect that Ybarbo was not at this time intending to abandon his 
home for good and all. At mission Nacogdoches nine persons, 
comprising two families, dropped out, at the request, so the story 
goes, of the Texas chief, Vigotes, who declared his intention of going 
to Bexar with his people to beg the governor to allow the Spaniards 
to return with a padre. At this place the aged Gonzalez and two 
women died. In Gonzalez's stead, the sergeant took charge of the 

According to the reports, after leaving Nacogdoches the suffering 
of the emigrants was severe. 2 They were poorly supplied with 
beasts of burden, and many of them, women as well as men, had 
to go on foot till they reached the Brazos. In order to obtain 
food some were forced to sell not only their clothing, but even 
their rosaries and other sacred treasures. Owing to this scarcity 
of food, the drought experienced during the first half of the way, 
and the heavy floods encountered on the latter portion, there was 
much sickness among both people and animals, as a result of 
which ten children died, and some of the cattle were lost. At the 
Brazos, however, the party was met by supplies and mules sent out 
by the governor, and the suffering was relieved. At Arroyo del 
Cibolo, where, in pursuance of the royal order, a garrison of twenty 
men had just been stationed by the governor, 8 a few more persons 

1 Ybarbo to Oconor, Jan. 8, 1774, in Quaderno que Corresponde, 7. 

'Gonzales died on July 30th, hence more than a month was consumed in 
getting past Nacogdoches. This does not indicate any great haste 
(Autos, 22). 

"Arroyo del Cibolo was doubtless identical with modern Cibolo Creek, 
which joins the San Antonio River about half way between San Antonio 
and Goliad, or old Bahla del Esplritu Santo. According to Governor 
Ripperda, the settlement on this arroyo was located "at the crossing of 
the Texas and the Tuacanes" (Ripperda to the viceroy, Nov. 25, 1773. 
Letter No. 52, Vol. 100, Provincias Interims, Archive General). Accord- 
ing to a representation made by the government of the villa of San Fer- 
anado to Croix, Jan. 12, 1778 (Los Vecinos, etc., 10) it was about eight- 
een leagues eastward from San Antonio de B6xar. In 1782 the ranches here 
were six in number, with a population of 85. Some twenty-five ranches 

88 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

dropped out of the company. Finally, on Sept. 26, the residue 
straggled into Bexar, foot-sore, and so broken in health that within 
some three months more than thirty others died. With the party 
had come the four missionaries 1 from Adaes, Los Ais, and Nacog- 
doches. The soldiers brought with them, drawn by the oxen of 
the settlers, twelve four-pound cannons, fifteen boxes of ammuni- 
tion and eight tercios of gun-carriage iron. 2 

5. The aftermath. No sooner had the Spaniards left Adaes 
than the neighboring Indians raided the place, scattered things 
about, and unearthed and carried away part of the ammunition 
and other effects buried within the presidio. 3 But the Indians 
did not get all the spoils, for the families left at El Lobanillo ap- 
peared upon the scene and saved what they could. 4 The runaways 
from Adaes shortly transferred their headquarter to El Lobanillo. 
On September 13, Pellier, in command at Natchitoches, wrote to 
Ripperda that "many fugitives who escaped from the convoy from 
los Adaes have taken refuge at Lobanillo. They come surrepti- 
tiously to my post in search of liquor (aguardiente) with the pur- 
pose of introducing it into the tribes." 5 With the Spanish gar- 
rison removed, the French apparently flocked in to trade and live 
among the Indians in greater numbers than before. 6 

had been abandoned (see Bancroft, North Mexican States and Texas, I, 
632). For additional information concerning this settlement, see Los 
Vecinos, etc., passim. 

'Accoring to Rub! (see ante, p. 75) there had been five in 1767. 

2 Ripperda to the viceroy, Sept. 28, 1773; petition of Ybarbo and others 
to the governor, Oct. 4, 1773 both in Autos, 21-22,4. Ybarbo to Oconor, 
Jan. 8, 1774, in Quaderno que Corresponde, 7. 

Four of the cannons brought to Be"xar were -ordered sent to Monclova 
(the viceroy to Ripperda, Feb. 9, 1774, in Vol. 99, Provincias Internas). 

"Testimony of a Spaniard who returned to Adaes for a sick man who 
had been left behind (Ripperda to the viceroy, Sept. 28, 1773, in Autos, 

4 Oconor to Ripperda, Feb. 17, 1774, reviewing a letter which he had re- 
ceived from Ripperda. 

'Volume 100, Provincias Internas. The original letter is in French. It 
is accompanied by a translation into Spanish. 

'Ybarbo, in writing to Oconor, Jan. 8, 1774, said: "Scarcely had we 
left when Frenchmen settled in all the nations. This report we got 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 89 

So far as I have been able to ascertain, some of these people 
never left El Lobanillo, although orders were given to remove them, 
and Ybarbo did remove some of them. Thus it is possible, and 
even probable, that in spite of government commands the frontier 

was never wholly abandoned. 



1. The petition of the Adaesans. As soon as the Adaesans ar- 
rived at Bexar, Ripperda, in accordance with his instructions, pro- 
mulgated among them an order to choose anywhere within the 
villa of San Fernando such lands as they desired for their building 
spots, fields, and pastures, providing that by the choice they should 
not interfere with the rights of settlers or of the Indians at 
the missions. Thinking that the families who had stopped at 
Arroyo del Cibolo could do no better than to settle there, he sent a 
lieutenant, to that place to lay out lands for them in case they 
chose to remain there. 1 

But the Adaesans, both those at Arroyo del Cibolo and those at 
Bexar, promptly refused to choose lands or to accept them, for 
they wished to return to the eastern frontier; 2 and eight days 
after arriving, they presented to the governor a petition to 
that effect, signed by seventy-five men. 3 It stated that the lo- 

from a Spaniard who remained behind sick, as well as from one of the 
French traders who came with some Indians and reported the fact" 
( Quaderno que Corresponde, 8 ) . 

'Ripperda to the viceroy, Sept. 28, and Dec. 10, 1773, in Autos, 8, 21; 
Ybarbo to Oconor, Jan. 8, 1774, in Quaderno que Corresponde, 8. 

'Ripperda to the viceroy, Sept. 28, 1773, in Autos, 21. 

"Only seventy-five names appear on the copy of the petition in my 
possession, but Ripperda says there were seventy -six (Reply to the peti- 
tioners, in Autos, 5). It may be that the original petition contained 
seventy-six. Ripperda stated that the families of these petitioners in- 
cluded 126 persons, which would make 202 individuals represented by the 
petition. In a leter of Dec. 11, 1773, the governor says the petition rep- 
resented the majority of the Adaesans. If this be true, his estimate of 
the number of persons on the fronties (see page 83) was too large, even if 
he meant to include the soldiers who were there. According to Lieuten- 
ant Pacheco there were in Bgxar in April, 1774, 140 men from Adaes 
capable of bearing arms (Expediente sobre la dolosa y fingida paz, 13). 

90 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

cality at San Fernando offered little or no opportunity to form a 
settlement without encroaching upon the rights of others; 1 that, 
because of the loss of all their property through the removal from 
the frontier, the petitioners were bankrupt and could not make the 
proposed aqueduct; that they wished permission to form a new 
pueblo at the old mission of Nuestra Senora de los Dolores de los 
Ais, where, because of its nearness to Adaes, they might be 
able to recover some of the goods they had left scattered at their 
former homes; and that they hoped that, because of their known 
loyalty, their sufferings on the way from Adaes, and their present 
need, their prayer would be granted. In this event they agreed to 
bear, themselves, all the expense of the return, except for the sup- 
port of a chaplain, whom they wished provided at government ex- 
pense for ten years. 2 

There is no reason to doubt the sincerity of these petitioners so 
far as their request to be allowed to return to the frontier is con- 
cerned. But the claim that there was no room for them at Bexar 
was absurd, while the choice of the particular location asked for is 
suggestive of the part played by Gil Ybarbo in the matter. Mis- 
sion Los Ais was close by his ranch, El Lobanillo. He was the 
person who had the most to lose by being driven from the frontier. 
He was the most influential man among them, acting as spokes- 
man for the rest, and, naturally enough, his interests were not for- 
gotten in the choice of a site for a new settlement. At El Lo- 
banillo he had left his family; here he hoped to recover his lost 
stock and other property; here he had a ranch well established; 
and it may be supposed that, as was afterwards charged, he was 
loath to abandon the interests he had developed in contraband 
trade. Other persons who signed the petition were, no doubt, for 
similar reasons genuinely anxious to return, but the impression 
remains, nevertheless, that, although he represented the sincere 
wishes of his neighbors, Ybarbo was the moving spirit in the at- 
tempt to undo the policy of the government. 

2. Ripperdd favors the petition. The petitioners probably ex- 

x ln a letter to Oconor, Ybarbo said that the country from the Bxar 
to the Guadalupe was "overrun (infestado) with stock, missions, and 
men" (Quaderno que Corresponde, 7). 

'Petition of Gil Ybarbo and others, Oct. 4, 1773, in Autos, 1-5. 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 91 

pected support from Ripperda, indeed he may have encouraged 
them to present their request, for it was known that withdrawal 
from the frontier was not in accord with his desires. Ever since he 
had become governor he had taken, under the influence of Captain 
Atanacio de Mezieres y Clugnes, of Natchitoches, a definite posi- 
tion regarding relations with the northeastern tribes. Of first im- 
portance was to keep them under Spanish influence so that they not 
only would remain friendly themselves, but also might be used 
against the enemies of the Spaniards, particularly the Apaches and 
the Comanches. This was the key-note of his dealings with the 
northeastern Indians, and it seems to have been a foremost con- 
sideration in his relations with Ybarbo. 

Through the aid of Mezieres and Father Ramirez, president of 
the Texas missions, Ripperda had in 1771 and 1772 ratified treaties 
of friendship with several of the northernmost tribes, 1 who had 
formerly been considered as enemies, and, at Mezieres's suggestion, 
he had advocated enlisting these new friends in a campaign against 
the Apaches. 2 He maintained, moreover, that they could not be 
kept friendly unless, like the French, the Spaniards would supply 
them with fire-arms and ammunition. Otherwise, he said, they 
would prefer war to peace, for the sake of an excuse for engaging 
in their favorite pastime of stealing horses from the Spaniards and 
selling them to the French. As an additional means of cementing 
their friendship he recommended establishing among them a new 
presidio, with a colony of citizens and a mission near it. 

With foreign enemies as well as the Indians in view, he advo- 
cated extending a line of presidios clear from New Mexico to the 

ir The principal ones of these were the Quitseis (Keechis), west or a lit- 
tle northwest of Nacogdoches; the Yscanis, a short distance west of the 
Quitseis; the Tawakanas on the Trinity and the Brazos rivers west of the 
Yscanis; the Tonkawas, who lived a wandering life between the middle 
courses of the Brazos and the Trinity; the Xaranames, apostates from the 
mission at Bahfa, now living among or near the Tawakanas; the Ovedsitai 
( Wichitas?), living on the Salt Fork of the Brazos; and the Taovayases 
(Towash?), living northeast of the Ovedsitas on the Red River west of 
one of the Cross Timbers ( Mezifcres, Inf orme, passim ) . 

'Meziftres to Ripperda, July 4, 1772, in Expediente sobre proposiciones, 
24-61. Bonilla, Breve Compendia, 66. 

92 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

Mississippi. 1 A new argument for more strongly defending the 
eastern frontier was now available and was made use of by Rip- 
perda to support this proposal. It was not long after the cession 
of the country east of the Mississippi to the English before there 
began to be talk of danger from that quarter, much as formerly 
there has been talk of danger from the French. Rubi had said he 
did not entertain any such fears 2 although others did. Later on, 
rumors floated in from the north that gave some ground for such 
apprehensions. Mezieres claimed that when he was on his ex- 
tended tour among the northern Indians in 1772, carrying to them 
the sword and the olive branch, he found among the Taovayases a 
certain Indian, named Jose, who was engaged in bringing from 
the Pams-Mahas (Pawnees?) firearms of foreign that is, neither 
French nor Spanish make. He found there also two Panis-Mahas 
advertising the advantages of trading with the English. These he 
brought to Bexar to be questioned on the subject. 3 In addition to 
these things, Mezieres declared the Osage Indians to be hostile to 
the Spaniards and friendly toward the English. 4 

Mezieres's report convinced Ripperda that, to keep them from 
contamination, the Taovayases and Ovedsitas should be brought 
from their remote homes on the upper Brazos and the upper Red 
rivers to the interior, and the new presidio established among them ; 
and he saw in the situation of the Osages and the threatened Eng- 
lish trade an additional argument for keeping an influence over all 
the northern Indians, namely, that they might be used eventually 
in driving the Osages and their allies across the Missouri River, 
or even in repelling an invasion by the English themselves. 

The eastern tribes, living between Adaes and the middle Trinity 
were generally friendly toward the Spaniards, but recently sus- 
picion had arisen that the Vidais and the Texas were becoming 

'Ripperda to the viceroy, April 28, 1772, and July 5, 1772, in Expe- 
diente sobre proposiciones, 2-3, 19-20; Bonilla, Breve Compendia, 65-66. 
Ripperda had earlier than this expressed similar opinions. See the in- 
form e of Barrios to the viceroy, Nov. 6, 1771, in Vol. 99, Provinciaa 
Internas, Archive General. 

'Dictamen, paragraph 17. 

s lnforme del Capn. infanta. Dn. Athanacio de Mezieres al Sr. Coronel 
Baron de Ripperda, July 4, 1772, in Expediente sobre proposiciones, 37-39. 


Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 93 

too friendly toward the Apaches, the worst enemy of the Spaniards. 
Kipperda, therefore, favored establishing a closer surveillance over 
these tribes. 1 

It is not surprising, therefore, that the governor, entertaining 
for the frontier such plans as these, should use his influence in 
behalf of the Adaesans, whose wish accorded so well with his. He 
replied to the petitioners that he could not grant their request 
without the infraction of a royal command, that is, the king's 
order of 1772, but that he sympathized with their cause, and 
that if they could not find suitable lands at San Fernando, at 
Arroyo del Cibolo, or in any of the old ranches in the neighbor- 
hood, they might carry their petition to the viceroy. 2 

3. Ybarbo and Florcs sent to Mexico. After some delay, dur- 
ing which an attempt may have been made to find lands to their 
liking, although this is doubtful, the Adaesans acted 'upon the gov- 
ernor's suggestion. On December 10, j.barbo and Gil Flores, the 
two most prominent of their number, 3 were formally made the 
authorized agents of the citizens to carry the petition to the vice- 
roy. 4 When they left Bexar they carried with them letters from 
the governor to the viceroy and Hugo Oconor. To prove the need 
of a minister on the frontier they carried a certificate taken from 
the records just brought to Bexar of the number of baptisms per- 
formed at the missions at Adaes and at Nacogdoches during 
their existence. This statement could hardly be considered the 
most convincing evidence, for it showed that in over half a century 
the aggregate number of baptisms at the two missions had been 
only three hundred and forty. 5 

In these letters to the viceroy and the inspector general, Rip- 

^xpediente sobre proposiciones, 1-3, 11-17; Ripperdfi to the viceroy, 
July 5, 1775, in Expediente sobre propjDsiciones, 19-21. 

'Autos, 5. 


8 "We who have most to lose" (Petition of Ybarbo and Flores, May 10, 
1774, in Quaderno que Corresponde, 30. 

4 The certificate of authority is signed by fifty-two persons (Autos, 6). 
The agents were elected by majority vote (Los Vecinos, etc., 7.) 

5 The report for the mission at Nacogdoches extended from June 24, 
1717, to April 17, 1768, and for that at Los Adaes from August 6, 1716, 
to Feb. 12, 1773 (Autos, 17, 18). 

94 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

perda made it clear that an adverse royal order had not served to 
change his mind with respect to the frontier. On the contrary, he 
restated his views with emphasis. 

He said that he was not fully informed of the reason for having 
abandoned East Texas, but that he believed it would be ad- 
vantageous to Bexar and the other interior settlements to estab- 
lish Spaniards among the northern Indians, particularly the Ta- 
wakanas and Taovayases, 1 the northernmost and at the same time 
the most numerous and powerful of all the nations in the province. 
Since these tribes were new friends, such settlements would, he 
thought, be valuable as serving to cement and retain their alliance. 
By forming a militia of the settlers, a line of defence would be 
established from Bexar to Natchitoches. The only objection to 
such a plan that he could see would be the encouragement that 
might be given by the presence of the settlers to trade with the 
French at Natchitoches, But that, he said, was going on 
briskly even now, not only with the Taovayases and Ta- 
wakanas and other tribes hitherto supplied from Louisiana, 
but also with those supposedly supplied from the interior 
of Texas, as was proved by the fact that these Indians 
were so well provided with goods that when they came to 
Bexar they even had guns to sell to the Spaniards. He thought, 
moreover, that an attempt to close the trade with Natchitoches 
might have even worse results, in driving the Indians to trade with 
the English, which they could easily do. These considerations 
induced him, he said, to recommend the petition carried by Ybarbo 
and Flores as one worthy of careful consideration. In his letter to 
Oconor Bipperda referred to a private request which Ybarbo had 
to make, and bespoke for him Oconor's assistance, so that in case 
the main petition should not be granted, "ultimately his ranch, 
El Lobanillo, might come to form a pueblo of more than sixty 
persons." From this it seems probable that at this time Ybarbo 
intended to ask permission to return to his ranch without the re- 
mainder of the petitioners, to collect and form a settlement of the 
persons left on the frontier, who numbered some sixty or more. 2 

1 After bringing the latter to the interior, he probably meant. 

2 Ripperda to the viceroy, Dec. 10, 1773 (Autos, 8) and to Oconor, Dec. 
11, 1773 (Quaderno que Corresponde, 10-11). 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 95 

It will be seen further on that the private request actually made 
of the viceroy was slightly different in form from what Ripperda 
apparently understood it to be, although it was not essentially dif- 
ferent in effect. 

The commissioners left for Mexico some time in December or 
early in January. On the 8th of January they were at Santa Rosa 
Maria. From this place Ybarbo dispatched a letter to Oconor, 
who was at Chihuahua. 1 In it he set forth in great detail the 
hardship incident to the eviction from Adaes and the sad 
plight of the exiles at Bexar. He said that more than thirty of his 
compatriots had died at Bexar previous to his leaving, and only 
God knew how many since; that subsequent to arriving there some 
of the families had been forced to go about the presidio and mis- 
sions begging and some had even been forced to steal, in conse- 
quence of which trouble had arisen with the citizens ; and that within 
two days after reaching Bexar the Indians had carried off the few 
animals they had brought. In- conclusion, he said that he thought 
a settlement ought to be established on the frontier to keep out the 
French who were flocking in, and asked Oconor to support his de- 

4. The petition granted. Having arrived in Mexico, the agents 
presented their petition, together with an address, on the 28th of 
February. The readiness with which the government now pro- 
ceeded to reverse a definite policy of the king is, to say the least, 
surprising. In his action in the matter the viceroy was guided 
almost entirely by the advice of Areche, the fiscal, who, in his 
turn, was dependent upon conflicting reports from Bexar, Bahia, 
and Chihuahua. This official, to whom the petition and Ripperda's 
letter were referred, 2 reported 3 that in his opinion the proposal to- 
establish a settlement at Los Ais was commendable, as a means of 
checking Indian assaults; that the king's reason for extinguishing 
the mission at Los Ais had been that it was without Indians and 
useless ; and that the viceroy would do well to grant the request and 

ir The letter was sent by Roque Medina, assistant inspector (Quaderno 
que Corresponde, 16). 

2 On Feb. 28th. 
On March 7th. 

96 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

to order the governor to put the measure into effect. 1 He does not 
seem to have been impressed with the argument predicated upon 
danger from the English, for he did not refer to it in his report. 
He advised proceeding through the governor on the ground that 
Oconor's many duties and his distance from Texas would entail 
delay. 2 

The matter next went before a junta de guerra y hacienda called 
by the viceroy for the purpose. This body resolved that, in view 
of the situation of the Adaesans, and, more particularly, of the ad-, 
vantage that would, according to the governor, result from a set- 
tlement on the eastern frontier, the petition should be granted; 
that the Adaesans should be settled in Los Ais in conformity with 
the laws for the settlement of new pueblos and lugares? that the 
viceroy should instruct the president of the Texas missions to ap- 
point a minister for the proposed settlement, provide through the 
sinodo for his equipment and maintenance, and make plans for 
bringing near the new pueblo as many of the surrounding tribes as 
possible, as a means of keeping them quiet and of preventing their 
communication with the English and other foreigners. This de- 
cision of the junta the viceroy ordered carried out. 4 

5. conor interferes. Thus far Ybarbo's mission had pros- 
pered without a hitch. But a communication received by the vice- 
roy suddenly changed the situation. In reply to Ripperda's letter 
of Dec. 11 Oconor had written saying that he could not support 
Ybarbo's petition, and ordering 1 the governor to bring to Bexar 
the people and the ammunition left on the frontier. 5 To trie vice- 
roy he wrote in terms of strongest disapproval of the whole plan. 
He said that he was convinced that private interest, ignorance, 
mistaken piety, and malice had combined to defeat royal plans 
favorable to peace. Citing Rubi's report as authority, he main- 
tained that Aclaes had long been the seat of contraband trade in 

1 Autos, 13. 

*Ibid., 13-14. 

3 See Recopilacion de Leyes de las Indias, Lib. IV, Titulo VII. 

*The junta was held March 17th, and on March 23d the viceroy gave 
the order to put its resolution into effect (Quaderno que Corresponde, 

5 Oconor to Rippperda, Feb. 17, 1774, in Autos, 19-20. 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 97 

fire-arms and ammunition carried on among the northern Indians 
in spite of numerous royal orders, and that the reason why Gil 
Ybarbo and his co-petitioners wished to return to Los Ais was to 
engage in this illicit trade. Referring to an Indian who had ac- 
companied Ybarbo and Flores to Mexico, he said that it was sad 
indeed that in addition to supporting so preposterous a petition, 
diametrically opposed to a royal order, Ripperda should give to 
northern Indians a passport clear to the capital, thus enabling 
them to learn the routes into Coahuila and the state of its de- 
fences. Finally, he requested that Ripperda should be required to 
carry out his previous orders with respect to the Adaesans, and to 
put a stop to contraband trade in Texas carried on from Natch- 
itoches. 1 

Just when this letter reached the viceroy does not appear, but 
four days after the junta had granted Ybarbo's petition it was re- 
ferred to Areche. 2 A week later he advised that the recent action 
be rescinded, and that a new junta be called to reconsider the mat- 
ter in the light of Oconor's letter and the reports of Rubi and 
Rivera, to which Oconor had referred. This plan was adopted, 
and on May 5 the new junta decided to refer the matter, with full 
testimony, to Oconor, with authority to grant or refuse the re- 
quest, as he thought best. 8 What his decision would be could 
hardly have been doubtful in the light of his previous expressions 
relative to the subject. 

6. The matter temporarily referred to Ripperda. Upon learn- 
ing of the decision of the junta, Ybarbo and Flores decided to pre- 
sent the private petition to which Ripperda had referred, 4 and to 
return to Texas without waiting for the settlement of their main 
business. Accordingly, on May 10, they asked permission to re- 
move their families temporarily to Natchitoches, as a base of op- 
erations from which to recover their abandoned property. 5 This 

M^conor to the viceroy, Feb. 21, in Quaderno que Corresponde, 14-17. 

'March 21. 

'Areche to the viceroy, March 28, in Quaderno que Corresponde, 17-18; 
decision of the junta, lUd., 28-29. 

4 See page 94. 

"To enable them to make the journey home, they asked for financial aid 
from the government, which was granted them in the form of a loan. 
During their stay in Mexico the government had supplied them each with 
a stipend of two reals a day (Quaderno que Corresponde, 30-32). 

98 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

request was refused, and on the same day that he referred the de- 
cision to Oconor the viceroy instructed Ripperda that he must not 
permit Ybarbo and Flores to go to Natchitoches under any consid- 
eration. But the force of this prohibition was greatly weakened 
by adding to it the very elastic instruction that he should give 
Ybarbo and Flores aid in locating the Adaesans "in a suitable 
place." 1 It seems that the viceroy verbally told Ybarbo that the 
new settlement must be one hundred leagues from Natchitoches, 
meaning, doubtless, that it should be no nearer than this. 2 

Thus on one and the same day the viceroy had left the matter 
in the hands of two different persons whose policies were at vari- 
ance. While Bucareli doubtless intended Ripperda to make only a 
temporary arrangement pending Oconor's decision, this vacillating 
and double policy left open the way for misunderstanding and for 
the eventual defeat of the royal plans, a result which was fostered 
also by Oconor's preoccupation and his procrastination. After a 
lapse of six weeks Oconor asked to be relieved from the respon- 
sibility imposed upon him, on the ground that it was an affair of 
Ripperda's, and that he was too far away and too busy to perform 
the duty. The viceroy insisted, however, but long before Oconor 
was ready to turn his attention to the affair, Ripperda had made 
arrangements difficult to set aside. 3 When Oconor took the matter 
up with Ripperda, the latter replied that he had already established 
the Adaesans in a settlement. Apparently in ignorance of the 
viceroy's order of May 17 to Ripperda, Oconor now reprimanded 
the governor for exceeding his authority, since the decision had 
been left to himself. To this the governor naturally replied that 
he had acted according to the viceroy's orders, and this informa- 
tion Oconor chose to consider an excuse for another year's inaction. 

^'Donde corresponde, segun lo que esta prevenido" (The viceroy to Rip- 
perda, May 17, 1774, in the Bexar Archives). See also Oconor to th 
viceroy, Dec. 31, 1775, in Quaderno que Corresponde, 42. 

Ripperda to the viceroy, Sept. 10, 1774, in Quaderno que Corre- 
sponde, 34. 

Oconor to the viceroy, July 5, 1775, and Dec. 31, 1775; the viceroy to 
Oconor, August 30, 1775; Oconor to Ripperda, Nov. 20, 1775; and Rip- 
perda to Oconor, Feb. 5, 1775 all in Quaderno que Corresponde, 40-54. 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 99 


1. The selection of a site for the Adaesans. The location of 
the Adaesans was thus left temporarily, until Oconor should inter- 
fere, to Ripperda, with only the restriction that the place chosen 
must be at least one hundred leagues from Natchitoches. In the 
performance of this commission he again showed his sympathy 
with the desires of Ybarbo and his opposition to the royal policy 
by sending the Adaesans to a place as far from Bexar and as near 
to the northeastern frontier as the terms of his authority would 

The site designated by him was on the right bank of the Trinity 
River, at Paso Tomas, which was apparently at the crossing 
of the Old San Antonio Road and the La Bahia Road over that 
stream. This opinion as to the location of Paso Tomas is based 
upon the following data: Ripperda said that it was the place 
where "the lower Adaes road," or, as he otherwise described it, 
"the road leading [from Bexar] to ... Adaes and Orco- 
quisac" crossed the Trinity. 2 We are told, too, that it was above 
Orcoquisac, 3 and considerably nearer to Nacogdoches than to the 
coast, the distances to these places being roughly in the proportion 
of two to three. 4 It must, therefore, if this be true, have 
been at least as far up the river as the upper portion of Walker 
County. It was, moreover, at a point in a pretty direct line be- 

*The fullest printed account of this settlement, so far as I know, is the 
one by Bancroft (North Mexican States and Texas, I, 630), which occu- 
pies only a page, and that marred by errors and half truths. 

'Ripperda (writing from Bexar) to the viceroy, September 1, 1774, and 
November 15, 1774, in Quaderno que Corresponde, 34-36. 

3 Ybarbo, in describing a trip made by him to the coast in 1777, said 
that he went through Orcoquisac. See a summary of his report in a let- 
ter from Ripperda to Croix, August 30, 1777, in Expediente sobre. . . . 
Parroco, 13-19. 

4 Ripperda said that Paso Tomas was "three regular days [march] from 
the coast" (Letter to the viceroy, November 15, 1774, in Quaderno que 
Corresponde, 36). Ybarbo reported that it was only a two days' march 
from the Texas village at Nacogdoches (Letter to Croix, May 13, 1779). 

100 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

tween Nacogdoches and Bexar, 1 and could not, therefore, have been 
very far from the Old San Antonio Eoad which, it has usually been 
supposed, passed very directly between these places. It was, finally, 
in the Vidais country, their main village being within two leagues. 2 
The location of this tribe in the later Spanish period of Texas his- 
tory is marked in modern geography by Bidais Creek, which flows 
into the Trinity River between Walker and Madison counties. 

These data, taken all together, make it seem probable, as has 
been said, that Paso Tonias was at the crossing of the Old 
San Antonio Road and the La Bahia Road over the Trinity. The 
La Bahia Road could with propriety have been referred to as the 
lower Adaes road, and at the same time as the road leading from 
Bexar to Adaes and Orcoquisac. Moreover, according to most of 
the old maps, the Old San Antonio Road and the La Bahia Road 
crossed the Trinity together at a point above the mouth of Bidais 
Creek. 3 This place has in modern times been identified with the 
crossing known as Robbins's Ferry, at the old village of Randolph, 
in Madison County. 

2. The reasons assigned for the selection. The reasons given 


Francisco Xavier Fragoso, in company with Pedro Vial, made, in 1788, 
a careful survey of the distances from Santa F6 to Natchitoches, from 
Natchitoches to B6xar, and from Bexar to Santa F6. As he had been 
sent out expressly to survey these routes, we should be able to place de- 
pendence upon what he says about directions and distances. According 
to his diary practically no change was made from a southwesterly direc- 
tion in passing from Nacogdoches to Bexar. He was on one of the well 
known routes across Texas, which was in all likelihood the Old San An- 
tonio Road. On the way between these two places he passed through the 
abandoned site of Bucareli, as the settlement made at Paso Tomas was 
called (Fragosa, "Derrotero, Diario, y Calculacion de Leguas," etc. See 
bibliographical note, page 69.) 

2 Ripperda to the viceroy, November 15, 1774, in Quaderno que Corre- 
sponde, 36, and to Croix, April 27, 1777, in Documentos para la Historia 
. . . de Texas, XXVIII, 224. 

3 See Austin's map, made in 1835, in Bancroft, North Mexican States 
and Texas, II, 75; another map made in 1835, given in Wooten, A Com- 
prehensive History of Texas, I, 784; E. E. Lee's map of Texas, made in 
1836, in McMaster, History of the People of the United States, V, 12; 
John Arrowsmith's map, made in 1840, in Kennedy, Texas, I (2d ed., 1841). 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 101 

by Ripperda in his correspondence, either directly or by implica- 
tion, for the selection of this site, were, briefly stated, (1) that 
Paso Tomas was on the highway from Bexar to Natchitoches, some- 
where ne&ir- midway, and that a settlement there would facilitate 
communication between the two places; (2) that it was sheltered 
from the Comanches through having between it and this dread foe 
the friendly Tawakanas and Tonkawas; (3) that it was in an agri- 
cultural region of extreme richness, which might be expected later 
on to provide the presidios of Bexar and Bahia with horses and cer- 
tain other products that then came from outside; (4) that it would 
be a good place from which to watch and cut off French contraband 
trade; (5) that it lay in the midst of a number of friendly Indian 
tribes, some to the north and some to the south, which fact gave it 
special advantages as a base of operations for keeping them 
amicable and for doing missionary work among them; (6) and 
finally, that it was a vantage point from which to guard the Gulf 
coast from the inroads of the English, 1 who were now beginning 
to be feared in that direction as well as toward the northeas^K^ 
The last two reasons were the ones most emphasized by tne gov- 
ernor. His desire to establish and maintain an influence over the 
northeastern tribes has already been set forth. His emphasis of 
danger from the English may be accounted for by the fact that 
rumors of English traders on the Gulf coast were becoming numer- 
ous. An example of these rumors may be of interest. In the 
fall of 1772 it was reported that Englishmen were in the neighbor- 
hood of the mouth of the Trinity cutting wood for houses and giv- 
ing presents to the Indians. Captain Cazorla, commander of the 
garrison at Bahia, was sent out to investigate the ground for such 
a tale. He spent about a month on the expedition, and heard in 

'See 1 letters of Ripperda to the viceroy, September 1, and November 15, 
1774, and January 15, 1776, in Quaderno que Correspond^ 34-36, 68-70; 
Ripperda to Criox, October 28, 1777, in Representacion del Justicia, 3. 
When Mezieres visited Bucareli in 1778 he gave essentially the above rea- 
sons why the place should be fostered, adding the argument that the 
Trinity would offer a good outlet to New Orleans for the abundant prod- 
ucts sure to be raised in the new settlement. This argument was based 
on the assumption that trade between Texas and Louisiana would be 
allowed. Mezieres to Croix, March 18, 1778, in Expediente sobre el 
abandono . . . y establecer Comercio con los Yndios Gentiles, 2. 

102 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

the neighborhood of the Trinity reports of English traders, and 
found what he thought to be English guns. The Indians at a 
rancheria above Orcoquisac, reputed to be a center for French 
trade, told him that some Frenchmen living across the Neches in 
Louisiana were procuring these guns from Englishmen and bring- 
ing them to the Trinity, but that the French would not allow the 
English traders to come to the Indian villages in person. 1 Other 
reports of this kind were not lacking, and taken all together they 
may have caused the governor genuine uneasiness. He hoped, per- 
haps, in a settlement of the Adaesans on the Trinity, for a partial 
restoration of the coast protection that had recently been with- 
drawn by the removal of the garrison from Orcoquisac. 2 . That 
this was a genuine consideration with Ripper da is borne out by 
Ybarbo's activities on the coast, under the governor's direction, 
after settling on the Trinity. But the fact that Paso Tomas, in 
the midst of a large number of northeastern tribes, was chosen 
instead of a point near the coast, is a good indication that Rip- 
perda's desire to maintain an influence among these northeastern 
tribes and Ybarbo's desire to return to the neighborhood which he 
had left, together outweighed Ripperda's fear of the English from 
the south. 

The above reasons given by Ripperda for the choice of Paso 
Tomas as the site for the new settlement all sound unselfish and 
patriotic enough. Other persons thought, however, that the selec- 
tion was determined by the governor's and Ybarbo's personal in- 
terest in the forbidden Indian trade. Ripperda had for some time 
been suspected of encouraging, if not of direct complicity with, 

*Diary of Luis Cazorla, in Expediente sobre proposiciones, 71-72. At 
this rancheria Cazorla was told that when an Englishman had come there 
to trade, "giving four balls for a deer skin," French soldiers from Nat- 
chitoches had arrested him and taken him to their post (Ibid). For a 
report of the finding, in 1778, of remains of foreign vessels on the coast, 
see Expediente sobre el abandono . . . y establacer Comercio, 3. For 
another report of English on the coast, see below, page 118, and Expediente 
sobre la dolosa y fingida paz, 165-7. 

2 The place which I have designated as the probable site of Paso Tomas 
corresponds very closely with the one indicated by Bancroft (North Mexi- 
can States and Texas, I, 612) as the site of San Augustin de Ahumada 
before the removals which finally placed it at Orcoquisac. 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 1Q3 

French smuggling. 1 He was well known to favor its continuance 
rather than leave the Indians unsupplied with what they desired or 
to run the risk of having it furnished by the English, for he had 
distinctly said so. 2 In spite of numerous orders from the viceroy 
and repeated promises from Ripperda that the French traders 
should be driven from the province, 3 it was patent that they still 
frequented or lived among most of the tribes of East Texas. 
Their presence there is proved by evidence from all sources the 
testimony of the padres, of Cazorla, Oconor, Medina, Ybarbo, 
Mezieres, and of the governor himself. Though the viceroy's 
orders that they should be expelled were answered with promises of 
compliance, local protests Ripperda met, if not with threats, with 
the opinion that it was not time to stop the trade. 4 Suspicion of 
Ripperda was increased, by the fact that his principal representa- 
tive among the Indians, Mezieres, had the reputation of being a 
veteran Indian trader, 1 while the most prominent of the French 

1 Father Josef Abad, missionary at Bahta, who went with Mezires in 
1771 to make the treaties with the northern Indians, in reporting the 
"scandalous trade" that lir witnessed on the frontier, said, "I thought (I 
do not know for certain) that the governor was implicated in the trade, 
through his communication with de Mecieres" (Report to the viceroy, 
July 15, 1774, in Expediente sobre la dolosa y fingida paz, 149-150). 

2 See pp. 91-92. 

s ln communications dated IVci'mU-r !) and December 19, 1772, and Jan- 
uary 6, March 5, May 25, and June 30, 1773, the viceroy issued orders to 
the governor to cut off this trade. Ripperda as frequently promised that 
the commands should be complied with (See a letter from the viceroy to 
Ripperda, April 23, 1774, in Expediente sobre la dolosa y fingida paz, 
138. Some of these orders are in Doc. 1, Vol. LI, Secci6n de Historia, 
Archivo General). 

*When Father Abad, in 1771, asked permission to go to the governor of 
Louisian to report the contraband trade that he had seen, Ripperda re- 
plied, according to Abad, that "an immediate prevention of the trade 
would be undesirable" (Abad to the viceroy, July 15, 1774, in Expediente 
sobre la dolosa y fingida paz, 149-150). Cazorla complained that any one 
who remonstrated with Ripperda about the contraband trade was threat- 
ened with arrest. See also the charge made by Medina, below, p. 104. 

"Father Abad said that it was "notorious" that MeziSres was one of 
the principal promoters of the French trade with the Indians (Letter to 
the viceroy, July 15, 1774, in Expediente sobre la dolosa y fingida paz, 
150). Raphael Pacheco, lieutenant at Bexar, wrote on April 20, 1774, 

104 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

merchants, Nicolas de la Mathe, stood in high favor with the gov- 

Ripperda was charged even with sheltering contraband traders 
in Bexar. Don Roque Medina, one of Oconor's assistant inspectors, 
who was in that place early in 1774 inquiring into Ripperda's ad- 
ministration, reported that some Frenchmen were there under 
various pretexts, but apparently engaged in trade. "These," he 
added, "are not the only ones who have come to the interior of this 
province with the Indians. There have been various others, who 
have stopped at the house of the governor and then returned to the 
northern nations, serving as couriers to fetch and carry letters 
[to and] from Natchitoches. 

"The French continue to trade in guns, powder, and balls, which 
they exchange for ... beasts of burden. They do not raise 
horses and mules, hence, in order to supply the need, it is necessary 
to obtain them from the Indians in trade. To supply these it is the 
custom for the Indians to come and rob our lands, as in fact they 
are now doing. Indeed they have no other occupation. They never 
enter this presidio as friends, without carrying off horses and mules 
when they depart, and there is no human being who can control 
this governor, or make him believe that they [the thieves] are the 
northern tribes. Any one who says so is imprisoned. Only a 
serious measure can remedy this situation." 1 Medina no doubt 
got his information in part from the citizens of Bexar, who as a 
rule were just then hostile to Ripperda, but his statement is a 
good sample of the general feeling in regard to the governor's rela- 
tions with the French and the northern Indians. 2 Ripperda main- 
tained, of course, that all these charges were gross calumnies; but 

that Mezires was a person "who had always lived among the said nations, 
since the time of Dn. Jacinto de Barrios, trading in guns and ammuni- 
tion" (IUd., 133). 

H)conor to the viceroy, May 13, 1774, in Expediente sobre la dolosa y 
fingida paz, 141; Medina to Oconor, March 8, 1774, Ibid., 129. 

2 Upon receiving Medina's report through Oconor, the viceroy severely 
reprimanded Ripperda for not having put a stop to the French trade and 
for being deceived by the Indians of the north, and forbade him hence- 
forth to allow a single Frenchman in Texas or even to communicate with 
Mezieres (The viceroy to Ripperda, May 8, 1774). 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 1Q5 

the case against him, taking into consideration the great accumula- 
tion of testimony,, seems to be a strong one. 1 

Added to these grounds for distrust were Ybarbo's previous rec- 
ord on the frontier and the fact that the Vidais Indians, who lived 
near Paso Tomas, were the chief intermediaries between the French 
and the Apaches in the trade in fire-arms. 2 It is not surprising, 
therefore, that evil motives were attributed to Ripperda and 
Ybarbo in the selection of a site for the Adaesans. 

As soon as Oconor gave the governor's choice any attention, he 
reported what he knew of Ybarbo's previous career and of smug- 
gling at Adaes before its abandonment, and proceeded to say that 
the Adaesans had been located by Ripperda in "the place which 
better than any other enables them to engage in illicit trade and 
to encourage the northern Indians in stealing droves of horses 
from the presidios of San Antonio de Be jar, Bahia del Espiritu 
Santo, and even as far as Laredo, as lately has been done. More- 
over, the Trinity River facilitates navigation to the Opelusas and 
the neighborhood of New Orleans itself. Hence, it is concluded 
that the citizens established on the Trinity have better facilities 
than formerly for their contraband trade/' 3 That Cazorla and 
others made similar charges will appear later. 

In concluding this subject one comment may be made. For 
Ripperda to have been tolerant with French traders would have 
been quite consistent with his desire to keep on good terms with 
the Indians, to say nothing of any desire for private gain, consider- 
ing, on the one hand, the great influence of the French over the 
Indians, and, on the other, the insistent demand of the Indians 
that French traders be allowed to go to them. Moreover, the com- 

a Ripperdft to the viceroy, June 24, 1774, in Expediente sobre la dolosa 
y fingida paz, 163. 

'See the Informe of Mezieres, July 4, 1772, in Expediente sobre pro- 
posiciones, 40-41. Mezieres therein says, "I have not included the Bidais 
tribe among our friends, because the peace which they have made with 
the Apaches seems to be sufficient reason to consider them as quasi- 
enemies, and because it is notorious that they continue supplying these 
Apaches with fire-arms and munitions in exchange for mules and horses, 
well known to be stolen." 

'Oconor to the viceroy, December 31, 1775. Quaderno que Corresponde, 

106 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

plaint that Ripperda's administration was marked by French in- 
fluence was well founded. Hence, if all these charges made 
against him were true, the only matters for surprise would be that 
he so persistently denied them, and that Ybarbo, while on the 
Trinity, seems to have made some show of cutting off illicit trade. 
>4 3. The removal to Bucareli. Preparations for removal of the 
Adaesans to the Trinity were made in August, 1774. Before leav- 
ing Bexar the emigrants chose 1 for their prospective settlement 
the name of Nuestra Senora del Pilar de Bucareli, thus perpetuat- 
ing the memory of their former home, 2 and at the same time in- 
voking the patronage of the viceroy, Antonio Maria de Bucareli y 
Ursua. The governor, in view of 'the distance of Paso Tomas from 
any settlement and of the fact that the new pueblo was to have 
no regular garrison, organized from their number a company of 
fifty militia, and named officers "for greater stimulation among 
them/' Gil Ybarbo was made captain of the company and justicia 
mayor 3 of the prospective pueblo, since he was, as Ripperda said, 
"the best fitted and the most acceptable to his compatriots." Gil 
Flores was appointed lieutenant and Juan de la Mora alferez. 
These appointments were made subject to the viceroy's approval. 4 
Of guns and ammunition most of these "militia" had none, but the 
governor interceded with the viceroy to have this lack supplied, 
asking at the same time that a parish priest might be provided for 
ten years at government expense. 5 

to the viceroy, September 1, 1774, in Quaderno que Corre- 
sponde, 35. Ybarbo said that he was made captain on August 7 (Letter 
to the viceroy, March 22, 1791, Bexar Archives). 

2 Pilar de los Adaes. 

'Bancroft is apparently wrong in calling Ybarbo alcalde of Bucareli 
( see his North Mexican States and Texas, I, 656 ) . 

*There is some evidence that the appointment of Ybarbo was approved 
on January 1, 1775, although it is not certain. An official statement 
dated at B6xar, January 17, 1784, says that Ybarbo began exercising the 
office of lieutenant governor of the pueblo of Nuestra Seuora del Pilar de 
Bucareli on the date named. Since, however, this is not the title which 
he was given by Ripperda, and by which he was known namely, captain 
of militia and justicia mayor of the pueblo it seems probable that the 
statement referred to is unreliable. 

5 Ripperda to the viceroy, September 1, 1774, and November 15, 1774, in 
Quaderno que Corresponde, 34-36. 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 1Q7 

Because of the poverty of the Adaesans, only a part of the 
families, including at the most not more than seventy full-grown 
men/ could get together an outfit for the exodus, and even these 
had to be aided by the missions with a supply of corn. Nearly 
all the rest, however, declared their intention to follow as soon 
as they could manage to get horses and a site should be selected. 

Before September 1 the start for Paso Tomas was made, 2 the 
party being conducted by lieutenant Simon de Arocha and four 
soldiers, who were charged with the duty of founding the new 
pueblo. 1 

Thus the little band of ignorant, poverty-stricken colonists had 
been able, through the aid of the governor, the vacillation of the 
viceroy, the delays of Oconor, and the personal force of their leader, 
Ybarbo, to circumvent the royal policy. They were now starting 
upon the first stage of a journey that was, when finished, to signal- 
ize a complete victory over the home government, and to take them 
back to the neighborhood of the place which they had been so re- 
luctant to leave a year before. 

4. The growth of the settlement. As soon as the emigrants 
reached Paso Tomas, Ybarbo took the lead in forming the material 
beginnings of a settlement. Of his energy and efficiency as head 
of the community, Ripperda always gave good report, which was 
sustained by his successor, Domingo Cabello, and by the religious 
who were put in charge of the spiritual affairs at Bucareli. Rip- 
perda reported that Ybarbo set the citizens a worthy example of 
thrift, aided them with his own tools, oxen, and mules, gave them 
good advice, and kept them in due subjection. 

'On September 1 Ripperda wrote that only a few families had been able 
to go, yet there were enough, it seems, to form a company of fifty militia. 
On November 15 he wrote that Pilar de Bucareli had seventy men capable 
of bearing arms. There is some indication that others besides the first 
emigrants had gone by that time, hence I conclude that the first party in- 
cluded less than seventy adult men (Quaderno que Corresponde, 34-36). 
Ybarbo stated that a "large portion" of the Adaesans remained at Be"xar 
(Expediente Sobre . . . Parroco, 2). 

'This was the date upon which the governor reported the departure. 
Ripperda said, several years after, that the settlement was begun in 
August (Letter to Croix, April 27, 1777, in Documentos para la Historia 
. . . de Texas, XXVIII, 223). 

'Expediente sob re el abandono, 16. 

108 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

Soon after arriving at the Trinity Ybarbo brought from Adaes 
the nails and other iron work of the houses that had been left 
there, powder, shot, six cracked cannons, and some gun carriage 
iron, to be utilized in the buildings and for the defense of the new 
pueblo. There were also brought to Bucareli two cannons from the 
deserted presidio at Orcoquisac and two that had been left at the 
Taovayas village by Colonel Parilla in his flight before the Indians 
in 1759. 1 

In the buildings erected at Bucareli apparently neither stone 
nor adobe was used. The town was laid out with a plaza, with 
the houses surrounding it, as required by law. The cannons 
Ybarbo had mended and mounted, and round the place he built a 
wooden stockade. 2 The first church structure was a "decent 
chapel," built by the settlers shortly after their arrival, although 
at that time they had no minister. This chapel was soon replaced 
by a mere pretentious church supplied by Nicolas de la Mathe, the 
French trader with whom Ybarbo had so long sustained relations, 3 
and who was not tardy in visiting the new settlement and establish- 
ing himself in its good will. The motive assigned to La Mathe 
by the governor for this benevolence was extreme piety and spe- 
cial fondness for the patron saint of the pueblo, the Lady of Pilar. 
Be the truth as it may, early in 1776 he sent to Bucareli two car- 
penters, who built a wooden church twenty-five varas long, the_ 

^ee a statement in the B6xar Archives concerning the whereabouts in 
1792 of the soldiers and the cannon that had been at Los Adaes. 

One of the terms of the treaty made in 1771 between the Taovayases 
and the Spaniards was that the latter should be allowed to remove the 
cannons (Expediente sobre proposiciones, 4). In 1772, when Mezires 
was at the Ovedsitas villlage on the upper Brazos, he organized a party 
to send for them, but later gave up the plan (Ibid., 34). The cannons 
were very probably brought to Bucareli by MeziSres about May 1, 1778. 
In April of that year he made a visit to the Taovayases village, while 
there he expressed his intention to remove them, and on his return he 
went direct to Bucareli (MeziSres to Croix, May 2, 1778, in Documentos 
para la Historia . . . de Texas, XXVIII, 280, 283-284). 

2 Ripperda to the viceroy, January 25, 1776, in Quaderno que Corre- 
sponde, 69-70; Botello to Cabello, December 23, 1778, in Expediente sobre 
el abandono, 2-3. 

'See page 84. 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 109 

timber used being brought from the forest by the inhabitants. 1 
When the removal had been made from Adaes the ornaments of the 
mission had been placed in charge of the governor. Some of them 
were taken to Bucareli early in 1775, and Ybarbo later on asked 
for the rest, but part of them, at least, remained in the governor's 
hands until after Bucareli had passed out of existence. 2 

Something more than a year after its beginning, Ripperda was 
able to report that Bucareli contained, besides numerous jacales, 
twenty houses of hewn wood, grouped round the plaza, a wooden 
church, and a guard-house and stocks, the last two items having 
been provided at the personal expense of Ybarbo. And in June, 
1777, Ybarbo reported that there were at the place more than fifty 
houses of hewn wood, corrals, fields, roads cut open, and an im- 
proved river crossing. 8 

The little settlement grew slowly in numbers by the addition of 
various odds and ends of humanity. Ybarbo brought some, but 
I suspect not all, of the people who had been left at El Lobanillo 
and Nacogdoches; some of the Adaesans who had remained at 
Bexar followed, as they had intended; an occasional slave, escaped 
from Louisiana, drifted into the place; though Ripperda professed 
to allow no citizens other than Adaesans to go to Bucareli, he made 
exceptions in case of "useless vagabonds" who might be at Bexar; 
and finally, French traders flocked into Bucareli from Louisiana. 
During the winter of 1776-7 the pueblo was visited by an epidemic 
that made an inroad into its population by causing the death of 
seventeen persons. Among these, apparently, was lieutenant Gil 
Flores. At the same time the near-by Vidais Indian tribe was 

1 Ripperda to the viceroy, November 15, 1775, in Expediente sobre . . . 
Parroco, 3; Ripperda to the viceroy, January 25, 1776, in Quaderno que 
Corresponde, 69; Ripperda to Croix, October 28, 1777, and Ybarbo to Rip- 
perda, June 30, 1777, both in Representacion del Justicia, 2-3. 

'Ybarbo to Ripperda, November 23, 1775, and to the viceroy, January 
15, 1776, in Expediente sobre . . . Parroco, 3-4; Croix to Cabello, 
January 5, 1780, in the Bexar Archives. 

'Ripperda to the viceroy, January 25, 1776, in Quaderno que Corre- 
sponde, 69-70; Ybarbo to Ripperda, June 30, 1777, in Representacion del 
Justicia, 2. 

110 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

reduced by nearly one-half of its entire number. 1 What the nature 
of the malady was I do not know, but it was attributed to the ex- 
cessive amount of water in the river valley. Before this epidemic 
there were in Bucareli, according to report, 99 "vecinos" or, as I 
understand the term, adult male residents. 2 A census taken some 
time in 1777 showed the population of the place to consist of three 
hundred forty-seven persons one hundred twenty-five men, eighty- 
nine women, one hundred twenty-eight children, and five slaves. 8 
Round about lived the Vidais and other Indian bands. Small 
though it was, this was a growth that compared very favorably 
with that of the Spanish settlements that had grown up in Texas 
less irregularly and more under the paternal care of the govern- 

5. Economic conditions. Bucareli was granted the usual favor 
accorded to new pueblos of exemption for ten years from all forms 
of royal taxation. 4 As we have seen, one of the special advantages 
at first claimed for the place was its agricultural possibilities. True 
to the traditions of Mexican farming, Ripperda had instructed 
Arocha to choose for the pueblo a site affording irrigation facilities. 
The location selected failing in these, which were little needed, as 
the event proved, 5 the settlers sowed their first grain east of the 
Trinity, where there were some permanent lagoons. This crop was 
spoiled by a flood. The second summer they succeeded in raising 
a crop of corn west of the river, in a place pointed out 
by the Vidais Indians. Thereafter a number of families settled 
on ranchos, or farms, in this direction some distance from the 

^ezieres to Croix, March 18, 1778, in Expedient* sobre el abandono, 
2; Ripperda to Croix, October 30, 1777, in Expediente sobre . . . Par- 
roco, 12. 

2 Ripperda to Croix, January 11, 1778, in los Vecinos, etc., 7. 

'Ripperda to the viceroy, January 25, 1776, in Quaderno que Corre- 

sponde, 67-70; Ybarbo to the viceroy, November 25, 1775, in Expediente 

sobre . . . Parroco, 2; Cabello to Croix, May 31, 1779, Expediente 
sobre el abandono, 16. 

4 Representacion del Justicia, 6. 

"Ybarbo told Mezieres that good irrigation could be had at a distance 
of twelve leagues (Mezieres to Croix, in Expediente sobre el abandono 
. . . y establacer Comercio, 2 ) . 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. HI 

pueblo. Here they raised at least one good crop of wheat before 
the settlement was abandoned. 

Hoping to enable the place to supply its own blankets and coarse 
cloth, Ybarbo took from Bexar cotton seed, sheep, and a negro 
weaver, who was expected to teach his craft to the settlers. With 
a Bexar merchant, one Dn. Juan Ysurrieta, Ybarbo made a con- 
tract to have Bucareli furnished with merchandise in exchange for 
the prospective agricultural products of the place. Ripperda pro- 
fessed to hope that Bucareli would in time prove especially pro- 
ductive of horses, cattle, small stock, tallow, soap, corn, wheat, and 
rice, and that it would not only furnish the presidios of Bexar 
and Bahia with horses, but also put an end to the frontier smug- 
gling by furnishing the Indians with a substitute for French 
goods. Mezieres, who visited Bucareli in March, 1778, reported 
that the place was well capable of becoming the basis of a rich 
trade with New Orleans, by way of the Trinity River and Opel- 
ousas, if such a boon should be allowed by the government. 1 

Such dreams as these could have come true only on condition 
that the settlement had enjoyed a longer existence, that its popula- 
tion had been intelligent and enterprising, and that the govern- 
ment had changed its blind policy of discouraging the trade best 
calculated to induce the colonists to effort. As it was, the set- 
tlers were poor and shiftless, and during their short stay there 
they eked out an existence not far above that of their Indian 
neighbors, supplementing the scanty products of their fields and 
herds by hunting the buffalo and wild cattle that abounded between 
the Trinity and the Brazos. 2 From the testimony in the docu- 
ments we are led to think that they spent a large part of their 
time in this pursuit. As the French who traded among the In- 
dians in the vicinity were interested in fur dealing as well as in 

to the viceroy, January 25, 1776, in Quaderno que Oorre- 
sponde, 69-71 ;Botello to Cabello, December 23, 1778, in Expediente sobre 
el abandono, 2; Mezifcres to Croix, March 18, 1778, in Expediente sobre 
el abandono . . . y establacer Comercio, 2. 

'Expediente sobre el abandono, 2, 8; Representacion del Justicia, 7, 9; 
Quaderno que Corresponde, 67-70. 

They depended for supplies in part on the Tawakana Indians who lived 
on the Brazos near Waco (MezieTes to Croix, April 5, 1778, in Documentos 
para la Historia . . . de Texas, XXVIII, 274). 

112 Texas Historical Association Quarterly 

procuring horses, it is reasonable to suppose that the Spanish col- 
onists who engaged in hunting took advantage of the market for 
their peltries, exchanging them for the goods in which the French 
dealt. Of course, all trade between them and the French was con- 
traband, for the Spanish government strictly forbade trade with 
Louisiana in any form. 

6. Spiritual affairs. Notwithstanding due efforts on the part 
of Ybarbo and the governor to secure a priest for Bucareli, there 
seemed to be some danger of the realization of the prophecy made 
by the padres of the mission at Bahia that the place would become 
a resort famed for "liberty of conscience" and "an asylum for 
apostates." 1 The little flock went to their new pasture unaccom- 
panied by a shepherd, and for more than two years remained with- 
out one. During that time they enjoyed no other spiritual aid 
than that afforded by two short visits made by some religious from 

It has been seen that when the Adaesans first requested permis- 
sion to return to Los Ais they asked also that a minister might be 
provided for them ten years at government expense. 2 As soon as 
they left Bexar Eipperda repeated the request, and asked of the 
bishop of Gruadalaxara, to whose jurisdiction Bexar now belonged, 
that the settlers be allowed to build a church. The latter petition 
was promptly granted. 3 In February, 1775, temporary spiritual 
aid was furnished by the chaplain of the presidio at Bexar, who 
went to Bucareli, placed in the chapel which the settlers had built 
the image of the patron saint, the Lady of Pilar, and performed 
religious offices. A year later two missionaries from San Antonio 
spent a few days at Bucareli. 4 Who they were I have not learned, 

*Cazorla wrote to the viceroy that the padres at the Bahia mission 
anticipated "the loss N of many souls" at Bucareli. "Many wish to go to 
that settlement," he said, "because it is notorious that in it the Indians 
keep peace for the sake of the barter or trade which is carried on with 
them, as well as because they live there, as it is understood, with liberty 
of conscience" (Letter .of May 15, 1775, in Quaderno que Corresponde, 38). 

2 See page 90. 

3 Ripperd{i to the viceroy, September 1, 1774, in Quaderno que Corre- 
sponde, 34; the bishop of Guadalaxara to Ripperda, December 19, 1775, 
in the B&xar Archives. 

*Ybarbo to the viceroy, November 25, 1775, and Arrellano to Croix, 
April 27, 1777, both in Expediente sobre . . . Parroco, 2, 8. The 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 113 

but there is some indication that one of them was FT. Josef Fran- 
cisco Mariano de la Garza, a Franciscian friar from mission San 
Antonio de Valero, who eventually became regularly installed at 
Bucareli. 1 

Before this time Ybarbo had again addressed the viceroy on the 
subject of a regular pastor supported by the government, and again 
Kipperda had seconded the request. In response, the viceroy, on 
the advice of Oconor, wrote Kipperda, in August, 1776, that, since 
there were already ten religious on royal pay at the five missions 
near by, as a temporary measure the governor should require the 
president of the missions to send one of them to Bucareli until 
the disposal of that place should be decided. Kipperda served the 

bishop of Guadalaxara to Ripperda, December 13, 1775, in the Bexar 
Archives; Ripperda to the viceroy, January 25, 1776, in Quaderno que 
Corresponde, 69. 

Ybarbo to the viceroy, November 25, 1775; Ripperda to the viceroy, 
January 15, 1776; Oconor to the viceroy, June 15, 1776; opinion of the 
fiscal, August 8, 1776 all in Expediente sobre . . . Parroco, 3-5; 
the viceroy to Ripperda, August 21, 1776, in the Bxar Archives. The 
viceroy carelessly took Oconor's statement that there were five missions 
near the presidio of San Antonio to mean that they were near Bucareli. 
Arrellano caught him up on this point, as the text below shows. Arrel- 
lano said that he promptly sent to Bucareli a padre, whose name he did 
not mention, and asked him to have him relieved. Croix (June 24, 1777) 
recommended relieving him, without mentioning his name; and Ripperda 
(August 30, 1777) mentioned Garza as the padre at Bucareli whom he 
had seen fit to relieve. As no other religious is mentioned in this con- 
nection, and as Garza's presence at Bucareli from this time on can be 
established, I conclude that he was the one sent in consequence of Rip- 
perda's order of September 27, 1776 (see Expediente sobre . . . Par- 
roco, 12; Representacion del Justicia, 4; and Expediente sobre el aban- 
dono, 14, 38). Garza stated in his deposition made at Zacatecas in No- 
vember, 1787 (see note 5, page 84), that he had known and dealt with 
Gil Ybarbo "almost without intermission, except for a few days," from 
February, 1776, to September, 1783. This would indicate that he was, 
perhaps, one of the two missionaries sent to Bucareli in the spring of 
1776. But it seems that these missionaries returned in a short time, and 
that during the summer of 1776 the place was without a spiritual ad- 
viser. Hence his statement is puzzling. It appears that Ybarbo was in 
Bxar in February, 1776. This might account for the beginning of their 
acquaintance at this time, without supposing Garza to have been in 
Bucareli. In either case, I can not explain Garza's almost continuous 
dealings with Ybarbo after February, 1776. 

114 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

order on September 27, and the president, Fr. Pedro Ramirez 
de Arrellano, "promptly" complied by sending Father Garza, men- 
tioned above. 

It now became a question whether Garza should remain at Bu- 
careli or be relieved by one of the presidial chaplains of Bahia or 
Bexar. Though the president had obeyed, he resented the loss of 
his missionary, and ere long he appealed to Caballero de Croix, who 
was now comandante general of the Internal Provinces. To him 
he wrote that the viceroy's order was obviously based on an error, 
namely, the supposition that Bucareli was near the missions, when 
in fact it was one hundred forty leagues away; that, since one mis- 
sionary must always be present at each mission to minister to the 
neophytes, if one were sent to Bucareli there would be no one to go 
into the forests to bring back absconded apostates or to seek new 
converts; and that, since the stipend of the padres was often the 
sole support of these Indians, they might suffer if one of the mis- 
sionaries were removed. He concluded by suggesting that, since 
the bishop of Gaudalaxara had entertained such a plan, one of the 
presidial chaplains should be sent occasionally to Bucareli as had 
been done in the spring of 1775 and the missionary fathers re- 
quired to take his place while absent. 1 

Croix now yielded conditionally, and ordered the governor to 
relieve Garza by sending one of the presidial chaplains, unless he 
had good reasons for not doing so. But Ripperda, instead of re- 
lieving Garza, wrote to Croix that the objections to doing so were 
strong; that the presidios would suffer more than the missions by 
the absence of their ministers; and finally, that he was hoping to 
establish a mission at Bucareli, in which case the services of a 
trained missionary would be indispensable. In this tilt with the 
president of the missions, the governor apparently won, for Garza 
remained the minister in charge at Bucareli to the end of its his- 
tory. 2 

If we may judge of Garza's personality from his subsequent pre- 
ferment, we would conclude that Bucareli was fortunate in secur- 

^rrellano to Croix, April 27, 1777, in Expediente sobre . . . Par- 
roco, 6-9. 

^Croix to Ripperda, June 24, 1777; Croix to Arrellano, June 25, 1777, 
and Ripperda to Croix, August 30, 1777 all in Expediente sobre . . . 
Parroco, 9-11. 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 115 

ing for its pastor a man of more than ordinary ability. After 
leaving Nacogdoches (in 1783), whither he went from Bucareli, 
he became president of the missions of the province of Texas, and 
later was reader in sacred theology, then assistant in the council 
(discreto) of the Franciscan College at Zacatecas. 1 

A short time before Bucareli was abandoned another missionary, 
Fr. Juan Garcia Botello, was there. When or under what circum- 
stances he went I have not been able to determine. 2 

Having secured a minister at government expense, Bucareli next 
applied for exemption from church tithes. In the summer of 1777 
it was announced in the church that tithes would be collected, and 
two years' dues were gathered ; but Ybarbo made this the occasion 
of appealing, in the name of the citizens, to Ripperda, asking relief 
from this burden, on the ground of the poverty and misfortunes 
of the community, and of the public services which it had rendered. 
The petition was passed by the governor, with his approval, to 
Croix, who referred it to Pedro Galindo Navarro, the assessor of 
the commandancy general. Navarro recommended granting the 
request on two grounds, first, because Bucareli was exempt from all 
civil dues, 1 and second, because, since tithes were intended for the 
support of ministers of the altar, and since no religious of this 
class was serving there, the tithes could not legally be collected. 
Acting on this advice, Croix requested the church authorities at 
Guadalaxara to exempt Bucareli for ten years, which request was 
soon granted. 3 

It has been seen that Ripperda informed Croix in August, 1777, 
that he had hoped to establish a mission at Bucareli. 4 This was 

'Testimony of Garza, November 14, 1787; Schmidt (Rev. Edmond, J. 
P.), A Catalogue of Franciscan Missionaries in Texas, 1528-1859 (Aus- 
tin, 1901), 10-11. 

2 In his letter of August 30, 1777, Ripperda seems to say that Arrellano 
had been forced to send a secojid padre to Bucareli, although his meaning 
is not clear. This may have referred to Botello's going (Expediente Sobre 
. . . Parroco, 10. See also Quaderno que Corresponde, 72). 

Croix presented the request to the bishop, the dean, and the cabildo of 
the church of Guadalaxara, by way of command and entreaty (ruego y 
encargo). -For the facts involved in this paragraph, see Representacion 
del Justicia, passim. 

4 See page 114. 

116 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

not the first indication that he entertained such a plan. It was 
clearly his desire from the first to gather around Bucareli as many 
Indian tribes as possible. His mission projects, however, seem 
to have looked primarily to collecting there the apostate Indians 
who had in times past deserted the various missions of the province 
a prospect which he knew could not lack attractiveness to persons 
who had had experience with mission Indians. In January, 1776, 
he informed the viceroy that one purpose of sending the two mis- 
sionaries just then about to depart for Bucareli was to minister 
to the neighboring Gentiles and to found a mission to attract 
apostates, and his subsequent requests for a minister for Bucareli 
were based in part upon this ground. 

Often Eipperda wrote hopefully about prospects for the fulfill- 
ment of his desires in this particular. Now he reported that many 
of the Indians living near Bucareli were being baptized and that 
the Kanrankawas were beginning to come to the pueblo to live; 
now that there were good indications that many apostates from the 
old mission of San Xavier would gather there; and again, that the 
Texas, Quitseis, and Tonkawas were in the habit of coming for 
presents; that the Mayeses had failed to settle near the place only 
through groundlessly having taken offence with the Spanish; that 
he hoped, by gentle means, to retain the friendship of the Tawa- 
kanas with whom lived the desired apostate Xaranames; and that 
the Orcoquisacs, who had years before deserted their mission, were 
likely to come to settle near Bucareli, since they were imploring 
Ybarbo for a mission and were sending presents to Father Garza. 
In spite of these hopeful expressions, however, which, doubtless, 
were as strong as the facts would justify, nothing came of the 
plan for a mission at Bucareli except the baptism of numerous 
Vidais and a few other Indians, and the restoration of some of the 
Xaranames to Bahia, unless, perhaps, it is this plan that explains 
the presence of Botello at Bucareli in the fall of 1778. 1 

7. Ybarbo among the Indians and his search for the English. 
Ybarbo's activities were by no means confined to establishing the 
pueblo of Bucareli and administering its internal affairs. He 

Eipperda to the viceroy, January 25, 1776, in Quaderno que Corre- 
sponde, 69, 71; to Croix, August 30, 1777, in Expediente sobre . . . 
Parroco, 11-12; and to Croix, October 28, 1777, in Representation del 
Justicia, 4. 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 117 

was equally active, as Ripperda had predicted that he would 
be, in promoting good relations with the Indians and in watching 
the coast. Indeed, it was at Bucareli that Ybarbo received his 
best training for a more conspicuous career later on. His life at 
Adaes and El Lobanillo had given him some knowledge of In- 
dian character, and now, by his four years in a position of responsi- 
bility, and at the same time of semi-independence, at Bucareli, he so 
extended his acquaintance with the natives and his knowledge of In- 
dian affairs that he became very influential among the tribes of 
East Texas. 

During these four years, he made according to his own state- 
ment in addition to hostile campaigns against the Comanches, 
no less than three friendly tours among the northern Indians and 
as many to the coast for the double purpose of conducting Indian 
relations and looking for Englishmen. 1 The governor ordered 
Lieutenant Arocha, when he founded Bucareli, to go with Ybarbo 
to invite the Vidais, Texas, Quitseis, Yscanes, and, if possible, the 
more distant tribes, to come and live near the new establishment. 
Before Arocha returned to Bexar he and Ybarbo were able, through 
lack of horses, to visit only the Texas and the Vidais. 2 But later, 
through friendly visits, presents, and other inducements, Ybarbo 
gradually attracted various bands to the vicinity of Bucareli to 
live or to trade and receive presents. In March, 1778, he 
went with Mezieres and made a treaty with the Tonkawas, one of 
the conditions of which was that this tribe should regularly be 
visited by a trader. 3 On the same expedition he, Garza, and 
Mezieres persuaded part of the Xaranames living among the Tawa- 
kanas to return to their mission at Bahia. 4 

The most noteworthy of these expeditions was that made in 1777 
to the mouth of the Sabine River. In the summer of that year a 
trader stationed among the Orcoquisac Indians reported to Ybarbo 

1 Ybarbo to Ripperda, June 30, 1777, in Representation del Justicia, 2. 

'Ripperda to the viceroy, November 15, 1774, in Quaderno que Corre- 
sponde, 36. 

Ybarbo to Cabello, December 7, 1778, in Expediente sobre. el aban- 
dono, 5. 

4 MeziSres to Croix, April 5, 7, and 8, 1778, in Documentos para la His- 
toria . . . de Texas, XXVIII, 273-278. 

118 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

that in the mouth of the Neches River there was a stranded Eng- 
lish vessel laden with bricks ; that the bricks had been given to the 
Opelousas and the Atakapas Indians near by; and that there was 
another vessel in the mouth of the Trinity. Ybarbo at once got to- 
gether thirty men and started for the coast, going first to the Orco- 
quisac town. The Indians here told him that the English had en- 
tered the Neches with small vessels to trade with the natives; that 
in the summer of 1774 they had remained long enough to sow a 
crop; and that the vessel now lying in the Neches had arrived in 
the previous May (1777), had missed the channel, and stranded, 
the occupants withdrawing, but promising to return. Ybarbo 
scolded the Indians for not reporting the matter promptly, and 
then, with ten men and two paid Indian guides, he reconnoitered 
the coast. He passed eastward along the shore and came upon the 
vessel, apparently in Sabine Lake. It still contained some bricks, 
but nothing else. Such other things as had been on board were 
seen in the possession of the near-by Atakapas. These Indians told 
Ybarbo that the English had left three men to guard the vessel 
until the main party should return, but nothing was seen of them 
by the Spaniards. 

Ybarbo next returned to reconnoiter the mouth of the Trinity, 
but he did not find the vessel reported to have been there. Near 
the shore some distance farther west, however, he found an Eng- 
lishman, lost and nearly naked. Ybarbo understood him to say 
that his name was Bautista Miler, that he had come from Jamaica 
bound for the Mississippi with a Captain named Jose David, who 
in order to rob him of some coffee, whiskey, and five negroes, had 
cast him adrift in a canoe, and that he had been lost for seven 

This story told by Miler gives no further hint as to who the Eng- 
lish were that the Spaniards had been hearing of and dreading in 
the direction of the coast. 

Before returning to Bucareli, Ybarbo made a map of the coast 
from Sabine Pass to a point some distance west of the Trinity 
River. The sketch has historical value, particularly as it helps 
us to locate with some accuracy the old Spanish presidio of Orco- 
quisac. 1 After an absence of twenty-two days, Ybarbo returned 
with Miler in custody, and reported his exploit to Croix. 

*It is in volume LI, Secci6n de Historia, Archive General. 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 119 

Wishing to ascertain the truth about the other English vessel, 
Ripperda dispatched a second expedition, composed of fifty men, 
including Ybarbo and thirty of his militia, to reconnoiter the 
coast from where Ybarbo had left off to the Colorado. The party 
set out from Bucareli July 11, 1777, but what it accomplished does 
not appear. 1 

8. Contraband trade, and the question of suppressing Bucareli. 
To what extent the establishment of Bucareli actually increased 
or decreased smuggling in its vicinity it is hard to determine. It 
had previously existed among the Indians thereabout and it con- 
tinued to flourish, but the exact part taken in it by Ybarbo and his 
colonists is a difficult matter to decide, for the evidence is con- 
flicting. If we were to accept, unquestioned, the reports of Ybarbo 
and Ripperda we would conclude that the latter made special ef- 
forts to prevent it. But, though there is some evidence that this 
was the case, there are also indications pointing the other way. 

Ybarbo found French traders from Adaes and Natchitoches 
among the Vidais Indians when he first went to establish Bucareli. 
Some of them, whose Spanish wives went to live at Bucareli, ap- 
plied for residence there, which, according to Ripperda, was granted 
only upon condition of their giving up Indian trade. 2 Bucareli 
had scarcely been founded when La Mathe, apparently king of the 
Indian traders, arrived at the place, with a pass from the governor 
authorizing him to "collect some debts" a subterfuge, more than 
likely, to enable him to continue his traffic. 3 As we have seen, he 
put himself into the good graces of the community by building a 
church for it, but one is inclined to be skeptical when told that he 
did this through extreme piety alone, particularly when informed 
by one of Ybarbo's admirers that La Mathe and Ybarbo kept up 

1( The story given here is based on Ripperda's letter to Croix, dated 
August 30, 1777, acompanying which is the map referred to. I have not 
seen Ybarbo's original report to the governor. Navarro's report to 
Croix, dated June 8, 1779, has aided me in reading Ripperda's letter (see 
Expedieute sobre . . . Parroco, 13-19). 

2 Ripperd to the viceroy, January 25, 1776, in Quaderno que Corre- 
eponde, 67. 

'See page 84. 

120 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

former relations during the whole existence of Bucareli, buying 
and selling of each other, just as before. 1 

A few instances of actual smuggling at Bucareli came to light, 
and, we may assume that, in the nature of the case, for each one 
that was reported numerous others escaped notice. The reports 
of these cases suggest much more than they actually say in regard 
to what was going on. In the spring of 1775 some men from 
Bahia, who had been across the Guadalupe River, met a party of 
Bexar men coming from Bucareli with French tobacco in their pos- 
session, some of which the men from/ Bahia obtained. The Bexar 
men reported that the article was plentiful at Bucareli, whither 
it was being brought by Frenchmen, who also traded with 
the Indians, The matter reaching the ears of Captain Cazorla, he, 
by strategy, verified the report, identified one of the culprits at 
Bexar, and notified Ripperda. The governor replied that he 
had ascertained that the amount of tobacco smuggled had been 
small. Cazorla afterwards intimated, however, that the governor 
may not have taken "due pains" to find out. Cazorla reported the 
affair to the viceroy, with the comment that "it appears that the 
sole motive of the subjects who go to Bucareli to live is to smuggle 
and to be free from the yoke of justice." He added that, since 
so many were desirous of going to that place where license reigned, 
and where the Indians were more friendly than elsewhere, there 
was danger of depopulating and weakening the defenses of the other 
settlements. 2 

Not long after this Ybarbo seized contraband goods from one 
Marcos Vidal, of Bexar, who was on the way from Natchitoches. 
Vidal was sent in custody to Bexar, was convicted of smuggling 
and imprisoned, but escaped. These two cases show that the Span- 
iards as well as the French and Indians engaged in the forbidden 
trade. 3 

On another occasion Ybarbo confiscated a large quantity of 
merchandise from Augustin de Grevenverge, 4 captain of militia 

1 See Garza's deposition of November 14, 1787, in the B6xar Archives. 
2 Cazorla to the viceroy, May 14, 1775, in Quaderno que Corresponde, 37. 

'Ripperda to the viceroy, in Quaderno que Corresponde, 68. A report 
of the case is in Bexar Archives. 

'Variously spelled in the documents. 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 121 

at Atakapas, in Louisiana, who was on his way to Bexar to trade 
for horses and mules, ignorant, he claimed, of the law forbidding 
trade between the provinces. How this could be when these pro- 
hibitions were so oft repeated is a matter to cause wonder, but when 
the trifling affair finally reached clear to the royal throne this ex- 
cuse was accepted by His Majesty. 1 

Cazorla's report to the viceroy established at once in Mexico a 
bad reputation for Bucareli, and set on foot an attempt to remove 
it from the frontier. On the advice of Areche, 2 Kipper da was in- 
structed, in July, 1775, to report upon the reputed disorders at 
Bucareli, and, if necessary, without further notice to remove its 
inhabitants nearer to the center of the province. 3 Cazorla was 
complimented for his vigilance and enjoined to continue it, while 
Oconor, to whom was sent a copy of Cazorla's letter, was requested 
to hurry up and decide the final disposition to be made of the 
Adaesans. He was even to send them to Los Ais if he saw fit, the 
royal order to the contrary notwithstanding. 4 Oconor did not reply 
until December 31, but on that date he expressed to the viceroy 
the strongest condemnation of Bucareli; repeated the objections 
that he had made to allowing Adaesans to go to Los Ais ; indulged 
in more or less "I told you so" ; gave Ybarbo a bad name ; and de- 
clared his disappointment that the governor should establish the 
settlers in the very place best calculated to cause trouble. To per- 
mit them to remain, he said, was certain to have evil consequences. 
He recommended, therefore, that the matter be taken out of Kip- 
perda's hands and put into Cazorla's, giving him authority to dis- 
tribute the Bucareli settlers at B6xar, Bahia, and Arroyo del 

'In Expediente sobre comercio reciproco entre las Provincias de la 
Luisiana y Texas, 4-6 (Vol. 43, Secci6n de Historia, Archive General), is 
a copy of the memorandum of the goods confiscated by Ybarbo. 

'Areche to the viceroy, July 13, 1775, in Quaderno que Corresponde, 
38-39. Areche said in his note, "It appears that this settlement presents 
some dangers that, lest they increase, ought to be remedied, and at the 
opportune moment cut off at the roots." 

The viceroy to Ripperda, July 26, 1775, in the Be"xar Archives. 

4 Areche to the viceroy, July 13, 1775, and Cazorla to the viceroy, Feb- 
ruary 27, 1776, both in Quaderno que Corresponde, 39, 65; Oconor to the 
viceroy, December 31, 1775, Ibid., 40-54. The date of the order to Oconor 
was July 26, 1775. 

122 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

Cibolo as the royal order 'had required. 1 On hearing from Oconor, 
the government again, in February, 1776, referred the matter to 
him, and decided that no further step should be taken in Mexico 
until Ripperda should be heard from. His report, when it came, 2 
containing only contradictory testimony, the government concluded 
to try to get at the truth of the situation by having the president 
of the Texas missions make a report based on the testimony of the 
religious at Bucareli. Oconor, not to be outdone in the matter of 
procrastination, decided, in April, to suspend action until he could 
go in person to Bexar, and, in conference with the cdbildo, con- 
sider the whole matter. This, he said, was the only way to avoid 
the endless importunities which "some persons might make, with 
the sole purpose of succeeding in their caprice of not obeying the 
viceroy's and his [Oconor's] repeated orders." 3 Thus, so far as 
any immediate action on the part of Oconor or the viceroy was con- 
cerned, the French, Spaniards, and Indians on the frontier were 
left free to carry on illicit trade at will. But Ripperda consistently 
denied that it was openly allowed by the Texas authorities. Al- 
though he admitted that it existed, he claimed that Ybarbo was 
active in trying to prevent it, that the citizens of Bucareli were 
law-abiding, and that positive public advantages would be realized 
by fostering the settlement which was under such general suspi- 
cion. 4 He defended the place to the last. Shortly before he re- 
tired from the office of governor he urged that it be reinforced by 
sending to it the Adaesans still remaining in Bexar, instead of 
trying to form of them a new pueblo at Bexar, Arroyo del Cibolo, 
or on the Guadalupe or the San Marcos River, as was then being 
talked of. 6 

Had Oconor remained in power, it is not at all improbable that 

1 Oconor to the viceroy, December 31, 1775, in Quaderno que Corre- 
sponde, 40-45. 

*It was dated January 25, 1776. 

'Areche to the viceroy, February 21, 1776, and May 2, 1776; Oconor to 
the viceroy, April 5 } 1776 all in Quaderno que Corresponde, 54, 72, 66. 

*Ripperda to the viceroy, January 25, 1775, in Quaderno que Corre- 
sponde, 67-71. 

5 Ripperda to Croix, January 11, 1778, in Los Vecinos, etc., 7. Croix 
was at this time in B6xar. 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 123 

as soon as his hands had become really free he would have carried 
out the royal order to the letter and suppressed the place. But 
Bucareli now profited by another year's delay due to Oconor's pre- 
occupation, and then by a change in the government. Early in 
It 77 the affairs of the Internal Provinces were put into the hands 
of a comandante general, independent of the viceroy. The person 
appointed to this office was Caballero de Croix. The mere change 
of administration gave Bucareli an additional term of grace, and, 
of more importance, it transferred the supervision of the interests 
of Texas from Oconor, the main opponent of Bucareli, to Croix, 
who was not only opposed to the royal policy of withdrawing from 
East Texas, 1 but who also enjoyed a high degree of independence in 
his office. 

It was more than a year after Croix took charge of affairs be- 
fore he reopened the question of Bucareli's continuance or sup- 
pression. Then, in July, 1778, he ordered that Domingo Cabello 
should be requested to report, as soon as he should take charge of 
the office of governor of Texas, upon the advantages and disadvan- 
tages of Bucareli. 2 But before Cabello replied the fate of Bucareli 
had been decided independently of governmental authority. 


1. The Comanche troubles at Bucareli, May and October, 
1778. One of the advantages that had been claimed for Bucareli 
was that it was protected by the powerful Tonkawas 8 and Tawa- 

K)n May 18, 1779, he wrote to Mezieres stating that Texas was, of all 
the Spanish provinces, one of those most worthy of attention, because of 
its size, fertility, good climate, and location (Mezieres to Croix, October 
7, 1779, reviewing the letter to Croix referred to, in Expdeiente sobre el 
abandono . . . y establecer Comercio, 7-8). In 1778 he tried hard to 
secure permission to open up trade between the provinces of Texas and 
Louisiana (Expediente sobre Comercio Reciproco). 

*Croix to Navarre, July 24, 1778, in Representacion del Justicia, 7. 
Croix to Cabello, July 30, 1778, cited in Cabello to Croix, May 31, 1779, 
in Expediente sobre el abandono, 13. 

The Tonkawa tribe was at this time one of the most numerous of those 
in Texas. It was estimated in 1778 that it comprised 300 warriors 
(Informe del Governador de Texas, in Vol. 64, Provincias Internas, Archivo 

124 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

kanas from the dreaded Comanches. And this claim seems to have 
been well founded, for it was more than three years before the 
peace of the settlement was disturbed by the Comanches' unwel- 
come presence. But at last it became the object of their depreda- 

One day in May, 1778, the inhabitants of Bucareli were fright- 
ened half out of their wits by the arrival in the neighborhood of 
about thirty warriors of this tribe led by the son of the head chief, 
Evea. Ybarbo sallied out with his men, however, and pursued 
the Indians, overtook them at the Brazos, killed three, and put the 
rest to flight. The story of this occurrence rests upon the testi- 
mony of Ybarbo, Garza, Botello, and Mezieres, who agree upon 
the points thus far stated. But as to the object of the Comanches' 
visit to the pueblo there is conflicting testimony. Ybarbo, Garza, 
and Botello represented the occurrence as an attack, and Garza 
even claimed that the Indians stole some of the horses of the set- 
tlers. Mezieres, however, who happened to be in the neighborhood 
at the time, and who doubtless got his information from the Co- 
manches, told and professed to believe a different story. Accord- 
ing to his version, the Indians were on the way to make a friendly 
visit to himself, had camped near the ranches at Bucareli, had 
turned their horses loose, and were resting anything but hostile 
actions when they were frightened off by the boisterous commo- 
tion raised by the terrified Spaniards in their haste to corral their 
stock and raise an attacking party. When he heard this story 
from Croix, Governor Cabello flatly rejected it, justly I suspect, 
on the ground that in the first place it was absu-rd to assume, as 
did Mezieres, that a Comanche would approach a Spaniard settle- 
ment with friendly intent, and secondly, that he had full confidence 
in the testimony of the three eye-witnesses of the event particu- 
larly that of Botello, whom he had closely questioned on the mat- 
ter and that all of them had represented the Comanche visit as an 
attack. 1 

*See Botello to Cabello, December 23, 1778; Garza to Cabello, January 
8, 1779; Ybarbo to Cabello, January 12 and October 19, 1779; Cabello to 
Croix, August 31, 1779 all in Expediente sobre el abandono, 2, 5, 7, 8, 17, 
38; Mezieres to Croix, November 15, 1778, in Expediente sobre el abandono 
. . . y establecer Comercio, 4. 

Ybarbo (letter of January 12) reported the date of the Comanche visit 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 125 

Whatever may have been the purpose of this first visit of the 
Comanches, the object of the second was not doubtful. In Octo- 
ber of the same year, Bucareli was raided by a much larger party 
than the one that had approached before. Driving off two hun- 
dred seventy-six horses, mainly the property of Nicolas de la 
Mathe, the Comanches crossed the Brazos. Here, at the point 
where they had on the former occasion been overtaken, they left 
an ambush to cover their retreat. The Spaniards apparently fol- 
lowed, but hearing of the ambush, gave up the pursuit, and the 
Indians escaped with their rich booty. 1 Near a Taguayas village 
they left the stock in charge of seven braves. Soon this guard was 
attacked by a party of Quitseis and Texas, both of which tribes 
were friendly toward the Spanish. In the fight three Comanches 
were killed and the horses were taken. But the triumph was short, 
for the escaping Comanches returned with friends, overtook their 
enemies, killed three Texas warriors, and recovered the horses. 2 

This raid on the Bucareli ranches was followed by rumors in the 
settlement that something worse was to be expected at the hands of 
the Comanches. Traces were found indicating that Indian spies 
had effected a night entrance into the stockade and learned the 
weakness of its defence. Rumors were brought in by French 
traders and friendly Jndians now to the effect that the Indians 
were planning the total destruction of the place by burning the 
town, killing the men, and carrying off the women and children; 
now that traces of Comanches had been seen in the nighborhood of 
Nabasat; and again that their attack was delayed only to secure 
the alliance, or at least the neutrality, of the Vidais and other 
Indians friendly to the Spaniards. 3 

Such rumors as these were usually very disturbing to Spanish 

as May 3 (tres). According to Mezieres (letter cited above) it was after 
May 6. This leads me to suspect that tres in my copy of Ybarbo's letter 
should be trese (13). 

'See references cited above, note 1, page 124. The different accounts 
vary somewhat as to the number of horses stolen on this occasion. 

2 Ybarbo to Cabello, December 7, 1778, in Expediente sobre el aban- 
dono, 4. 

8 Ybarbo to Cabello, December 7, 1778, and January 12, 1779; Botello to 
Cabello, December 23, 1778; and Garza to Cabello, January 8, 1779 all 
in Expediente sobre el abandono, 2-6. 

126 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

settlements stronger and less isolated than Bucareli, and we need 
not be surprised that they terrorized this weak village. Ybarbo 
could muster only a handful of men, and these poorly equipped. 
The cannons were useless to resist a surprise attack. The houses 
were of wood and easily combustible, and the stockade was in a 
bad state of repair. Ybarbo feared, moreover, the disaffection of 
the Tonkawas, one of the tribes on which Bucareli relied for pro- 
tection. In the March preceding, he and Mezieres had promised 
to send them a trader, for whom they had asked. But the promise 
had not been kept, and the Indians were complaining. To pacify 
them Ybarbo was compelled to make them presents at his own 
expense. 1 

To strengthen the means of defense, Ybarbo appealed to the 
governor for arms and ammunition, but without practical avail. 
Once more he collected a handful of men and went out to recon- 
noiter, but, after one day's march, upon being overtaken by a mes- 
senger and informed that a large party of Comanches and Tagua- 
yas were between the San Xavier and the Brazos, on the way to 
attack the Spaniards and the Vidais, he turned back. 2 

Of the situation in Bucareli, Father Garza, who was there, now 
wrote : "These miserable inhabitants are left in such a deplorable 
state that they have no way even to hunt for food ... for 
they can not go out to hunt except in large numbers and well 
armed, nor yet can they go out together and with their weapons, 
lest they should leave the settlement helpless. . . . Hence 
they can follow no other occupation than to be continually on 
guard of the horses and the settlement, relieving each other morn- 
ing and night. The time left free from this fatiguing work they 
spend in witnessing the need and the miseries of their families, 
without being able to furnish them daily food by the ordinary 
work of hunting, fishing, or other similar means, and ; moreover, 
without hope of remedy in the future, since the best time for spw- 

1 Ybarbo to Cabello, December 7, 1778, in Expediente sobre el aban- 
dono, 5. 

2 This event happened some time before December 7, 1778, when Ybarbo 
reported it to Cabello (Expediente sobre el abandono, 4-5. See also his: 
letter of January 12, 1779. Hid., 9.) 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 127 

ing wheat has passed without a grain being sown up to the 
present." 1 

2. The flight from Bucareli, January-February, 1779. The 
settlers now began to appeal either for protection or for permis- 
sion to remove to the neighborhood of the Texas villages to the 
eastward. 2 It is a matter for comment that they did not request 
permission to go to Bexar, where the defences of the province 
were strongest and where the king had ordered that they should 
establish themselves., but that, instead, they asked to be allowed to 
return a step nearer to the place whence they had been removed in 
1773. Whether the suggestion of a removal came from Ybarbo 
or from some one else I can not say. The first mention of such a 
plan in the correspondence is found in a letter written in Decem- 
ber, 3 1778, by Father Botello, who had recently returned from 
Bucareli. In response to an inquiry made by Governor Cabello 
about the condition of affairs at Bucareli, Botello said that, in his 
opinion, the place should be abandoned; that, besides being threat- 
ened with destruction by the Comanches, it was incapable of 
irrgation and had proved unhealthf ul because of heavy rains ; that 
these shortcomings could be remedied and all of the advantages of 
Bucareli with respect to fertility and location 4 secured at little 
additional cost by establishing the settlers "on the Neches River 
among the pueblos of Texas, on the Angelina River among the 
pueblos of the same tribe, with even greater security in the place 
where the mission of Nacogdoches formerly was, with much more 
on the Atoyaque River, and with advantages and security beyond 
comparison at the site of the mission of Los Ais, on the road from 
Natchitoches, thirty-nine leagues from that post." 5 It is not at all 

*Garza to Cabello, January 8, 1778, in Expediente sobre el abandono, 6. 

'Ybarbo to Cabello, January 12, and January 27, 1779, in Expediente 
eobre el abandono, 8. 

'December 23. 

4 The advantages of Bucareli's location he conceived to be its position 
midway between Natchitoches and Be"xar, and its importance as a place 
from which to watch the coast and to keep up friendly relations with the 

"Botello to Cabello, December 23, 1778, in Expediente sobre el aban- 
dono, 2-6. 

128 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

unlikely that this preference of Botello's for Los^Ais was simply 
his reflection of the desires of the Adaesans, learned by him dur- 
ing his residence at Bucareli. 

About two weeks after the date of this letter 1 Ybarbo 
wrote the governor that the people had twice come to him 
in a body begging that they might either be supplied with a suit- 
able military guard or be allowed to go with their families to the 
neighborhood of the Texas villages. In the name of the settlers, 
Ybarbo forwarded the petition to the governor. 2 Cabello replied 
that he could not send men and arms to aid the place, but that he 
could furnish ammunition if Ybarbo would come after it, though 
he dared not send it for fear that it would fall into the hands of 
the Indians. 3 

But before help was received, Ybarbo, compelled, as he claimed, 
by the straits and the supplications of his people, granted their 
request to be allowed to remove to the Texas country. On Janu- 
ary 25 the larger part of the families, including Ybarbo's own, 
began to leave. Two days later Father Garza set off on foot with 
the sick and the church treasures in his care, Ybarbo remaining 
behind with twenty men to protect the families and to guard the 
stock and goods left in the flight until the owners might return 
for them. 4 Incident to the departure of these families, either by 
accident or design, half of the houses of the place were destroyed 
by fire. 5 

Now an additional reason for deserting Bucareli presented itself 
in the form of a flood. On the night of February 14, according 
to the story, the Trinity River overflowed its banks, rose to half the 
height of the houses of the pueblo, and drowned part of the re- 

x On January 8, 7779. 

2 Expediente sobre el abandono, 9-10. 

'Cabello to Croix, February 11, 1779, in Expediente sobre el aban- 
dono, 11. 

4 Ybarbo to Cabello, January 27, 1779, in Expediente sobre el aban- 
dono, 10. 

5 This fact was not reported by Ybarbo, but Cabello said that he learned 
it "extra judicially" (Letter to Croix, February 11, 1779, in Expediente 
sobre el abandono, 11). 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 129 

maining stock. The women and children and some of the stock 
were saved on improvised boats and rafts and removed to higher 
land quite a distance from the river. Here the people remained a 
few days, when they were again molested by Comanches, who, after 
what was reported to be an all night siege, ran off thirty-eight head 
of horses that had been saved from the deluge, and then killed, 
near-by, half a dozen Indians friendly to the Spanish. After this 
raid, haste was made to remove the people in boats to the east 
bank of the river, but here they were again disturbed by the In- 
dians. 1 Being now thoroughly frightened by the Indians and 
evicted by fire and flood, Ybarbo at once set out for the Texas 
country with the remainder of the settlers. 2 

3. The beginnings of modern Nacogdoches. On the way he ap- 
parently picked up the people who had gone on before and who 
were living scattered among the Indians. The journey was con- 
tinued toward the northeast "until," to use the words of Ybarbo 
in his report to Croix, "there were seen the site of the Texas In- 
dians and, three leagues beyond, the old mission of Nacogdoches, 
where there was a small chapel in which the reverend father may 
perform the holy sacraments and a house where he may live, 3 as 
well as plenty of water, lands, and materials for houses." He does 
not mention the Old Stone Fort, 1 which it has been supposed had 

'Ybarbo to Croix, May 13, 1779, in Expedients sobre el abandono, 22; 
Cabello to Croix August 31, 1779; Ibid., 37; Garza to Croix, April 30, 
1779, Ibid., 23. 

'When the settlers left Bucareli they left six cannons, four of which 
were sooner or later taken to Nacogdoches. Those remaining at Bucareli 
were ordered sent to Bexar, and in 1793 steps were taken to remove them 
thither, but that they ever reached there I can not say (see a document 
entitled "Provincia de Texas, Ano de 1792," and a letter from Revilla 
Gigedo to Governor Mufioz, April 10, 1793, both in Bexar Archives). 

Mezieres, in his letter of August 23, 1779, testifies to the fact that the 
mission buildings were still standing when the Spaniards returned. He 
says "It [the mission] is situated at the foot of a knoll, where its build- 
ings still remain" (Expediente sobre el abandono . . . y establecer 
Comercio, 6 ) . 

*It is just possible that one of the buildings mentioned by Ybarbo, the 
chapel or the house, was identical with what has been known as the Old 
Stone Fort, which has recently been torn down, but this is improbable. 
I can not assert with confidence that Ybarbo did not build the Old Stone 

130 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

been built there before this time. 1 "I approached/' he continues, 
"in Border that we might sow grain to support ourselves and to 
await the decision of your Grace, whom I humbly beg to approve 
this my action, since it is impossible to return to the same place or 
to the banks [of the river] below or above, because the lands are 
low, or farther away [from the river], because of even greater risk. 
There is not to be found in this vicinity another place better than 
this one or the one which was granted to us by his Excellency, the 
viceroy, 2 and this one facilitates watching the movements and 
operations of the friendly Indian nations and keeping in touch 
with the doings of the traders, as well as getting news from the 
coast, a matter with which I am charged by my governor." 8 

Unless some of the Bucareli families who had set out in Jan- 
uary reached Nacogdoches in advance of Ybarbo and it would ap- 
pear that they did not this entry of Ybarbo's into the abandoned 
mission was the beginning of the modern city of Nacogdoches, for 
the continuous existence of a settlement there from this time for- 
ward can be traced. 

There would be some satisfaction in being able to give the exact 
date when this event took place, but from the available records I 
am unable to do so. The best that I can do is to say it was cer- 
tainly as early as April 30, the date of the first communication 
from Nacogdoches known to me. On that day Father Garza wrote 
from there to Croix recounting the story of the Bucareli flood, 
stating that Ybarbo had already given a report of the situation at 
Nacogdoches, and using terms that imply that all or nearly all of 

Fort for defense against the Indians soon after going to Nacogdoches, as 
has been supposed was the case. Indeed, in one communication he refers 
indefinitely to "fortifying" the place, but this probably meant the build- 
ing of a wooden stockade. A strong indication that the Fort had not 
been built before September 4, 1788, is the testimony of Francisco Xavier 
Fragoso in his Derrotero (see page 69). I^e notes that at Nacogdoches, 
where he arrived on that date, the houses were of wood and eighty or 
ninety in number. If so substantial a building as the Old Stone Fort had 
been there, he in all probability would have mentioned it as a noteworthy 

'See The American Magazine for April, 1888, pp. 721-728. 

'That is, Los Ais (see page 96). 

"Ybarbo to Croix, May 13, 1779, in Expediente sobre el abandono, 23. 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 131 

the settlers from Bucareli had already arrived. 1 Ybarbo's first 
report of his arrival at Nacogdoches I have not been able to find. 
The earliest communication of his from there that I have seen 
is dated May 9. It is a letter to Governor Cabello, and contains 
language implying that he had been at Nacogdoches some time and 
that Cabello already knew about the removal from Bucareli. 2 In 
reporting to Croix on May 13 the story of the desertion of Bucareli' 
he says that more than a hundred days were spent in getting to 
Nacogdoches. To have been true this could not have referred to 
the party he conducted, for he did not leave Bucareli till some days 
after February 14. Neither could it have referred to the whole 
party led by Garza, because one hundred days from January 25, 
when he set out, was May 5; but, as we have seen, some, if not 
most, of the settlers had arrived at Nacogdoches as early as April 
30. If Ybarbo's statement was true, therefore, he probably meant 
that it was one hundred days from the time when Garza started 
before all the stragglers who had 8 ^fil^J^fr r'fW^fCi ve( i a ^ the 
new settlement. 

It is necessary here to correct an error that crept into the story 
of the abandonment of Bucareli as it was told in the Spanish 
correspondence, namely, the assertion that the cause of leaving the 
place was the flood. It is clear from the above account that the 
Comanche raid was the external cause of the removal of the people 
to the east, and that the flood did not occur till nearly three weeks 
after most of them had left. Yet, through an increasing emphasis 
of what was in reality a secondary matter, it soon became current 
in the government accounts that the change of location had been 
primarily due to the overflow of the Trinity. 8 

^xpediente sobre el abandono, 23-24. 

8 It is true, however, that a previous flood had destroyed the crops at 
the place, and that the recurrence of the disaster may have been a strong 
reason for not returning to Bucareli (Botello to Cabello, December 23, 
1778, in Expediente sobre el abandono, 2-3). Interesting examples of the 
way the story became distorted are the following: "In reviewing Cabello's 
first report Croix wrote, "The governor of the province of Texas says 
. . . that because an inundation occurred at that pueblo and the 
Comanches stole the greater part of their horses, they were so frightened 
that they have deserted the settlement" (Croix to Cabello, May 21, 1779, 

132 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

4. Nacogdoches recognized by the government. Since it is not 
my aim to pursue the history of East Texas beyond the founda- 
tion of Nacogdoches, it only remains to show how this place, set>- 
tied without authority, secured recognition from the government, 
and to indicate briefly the importance it soon attained. 

The main purpose of Ybarbo and Garza in their first reports to 
Croix of the desertion of Bucareli was to show their unwillingness 
to return thither, and to secure permission to remain at Nacog- 
doches. By this time Ybarbo had changed his mind as to the rela- 
tive desirability of Los Ais, for he concluded the letter of May 13 
to Croix with the opinion that of the two available places for a 
settlement, Los Ais and Nacogdoches, the advantages were with the 
latter. 1 At the same time that he was asking Croix for permis- 

in Expediente sobre el abandono, 12). Croix's assessor general, Navarro, 
in reviewing the history of Bucareli in 1780, wrote that "the flood which 
the river caused, and the fire which followed it, reduced to ashes the 
buildings that had been made, and obliged the settlers to disperse and 
seek shelter and asylum among the friendly nations near by" (Expediente 
sobre el abandono y establecer Comercio, 45-46). 

x With respect to returning to Bucareli Garza had written two weeks 
before (Letter to Croix, April 30, 1779, in Expediente sobre el abandono, 
23-24) : "It is now wholly impossible to restore this population to the 
same unprotected place whence they fled, without exposing them to greater 
and more evident perils than those which they have already experienced, 
because not to mention this hostility [of the Comanches], which was the 
cause of their flight and which may be greater in the future, that dis- 
trict 'has been proved uninhabitable by the inundation which it suffered 
on the 14th of February." To possible locations elsewhere on the Trinity 
or nearer to San Antonio he was even less favorable. "Since this is the 
place formerly considered the best," he wrote, "I judge that such other 
as there may be on that river to the north or to the south are as bad if 
not worse. And not less unsuitable are the places which might offer some 
advantages toward the west between the Brazos, San Marcos, and Guada- 
lupe rivers, since these places, because of their large encenadas, are the 
paths of ingress and egress for the Comanches, and are much more dan- 
gerous [than the others] in proportion as they are more frequented by 
these Indians, nearer tneir lands, and distant from the friendly tribes, cir- 
cumstances which, having been weighed by these settlers, led them to flee 
to this vicinity." His opinion of Nacogdoches, on the contrary though 
based mainly on hearsay, as he frankly admitted, was highly favorable, and 
he intimated what Ybarbo expressed a preference for it over Los Ais. 
"Under these circumstances," he continued, "there is no doubt that your 
Grace's generous piety will deign to approve this temporary withdrawal, 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 133 

sion to remain at Nacogdoches, he was making recommendations 
to Cabello that implied an expectation that his request would not 
be refused. These recommendations were of a kind that he knew 
would appeal to the government, since they concerned the control 
of the Indian tribes about him. In May he reported 1 that the 
Tonkawa Indians who had been promised traders and had been 
disappointed were becoming insolent; and as a remedy he suggested 
that a trading post should be established at Nacogdoches and that 
a comissary should be stationed there. A month later he reported 
mew difficulties with the Indians, and said that Nacogdoches should 
be supplied with a good garrison. 2 

Croix and Cabello discussed the new situation without any refer- 
ence to the royal order in response to which the Adaesans had been 
removed from the frontier further than to indicate that they were 
aware that it was not being complied with. They both showed 
plainly that they desired that Ybarbo be allowed to remain wherever 
he would be most useful as an Indian agent, the only question 
being what was the most desirable location. When Croix learned 

and, if it be your superior wish, concede them permission to attempt to 
establish their settlement in another place even if it be in (hasta la) the 
old mission of Los Ais, which the excellent viceroy, Dn. Fr. Antonio Buca- 
reli granted them where, free from hostile invasions, they may in some 
measure retrieve what they have lost in all these removals. . . . And 
I believe that the advantages which, they assure me, this depopulated 
mission of Nacogdoches possesses, will contribute to this end. Although 
the site for the settlement is not the best nor the most beautiful, it is yet 
the most suitable, judging from what I have heard and the little which 
I have seen, for it is on firm land, commanding, entirely free from in- 
undation, and between two arroyos abundantly supplied with good water. 
Besides having a healthful climate, it enjoys the advantage of having near 
by many spacious plains of proved fertility, some more and others less 
watered, for the grain, and open commons (exidos) , good pastures, and 
numerous springs of water, for raising horses and cattle, and affords all 
other conveniences that these people could wish for their relief. The ad- 
vantage to the province resulting from their settlement in this place 
would not be slight, through their being able to visit the friendly Indians 
frequently having them near by and to promptly report everything that 
they may attempt anew contrary to the peace promised to your excel- 

a ln his letter of May 9, cited before. 

3 Letter to Cabello ,June 13, 1779, in Expediente sobre el abandono. 

134 Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

of the break-up of Bucareli he left the temporary disposition of 
the inhabitants to Cabello, giving him permission to bring them 
back to the Trinity River, or, better, as he thought, to establish 
them in any one of the places to the northeast that had been sug- 
gested by Botello. Far from recommending that they be brought 
back to Bexar, to do which now was the opportune time if it was 
to be done at all, he distinctly said that such a procedure "would 
be prejudicial to. the plans which are being meditated, by interfer- 
ing with the cultivation of the friendship of the Texas and other 
allied tribes." 1 Cabello, who had already given his opinion that 
Bucareli could not be held against the Comanches without a 
garrison, 2 soon expressed a preference for Nacogdoches over any 
other place, approved Ybarbo's request for a garrison on regular 
pay, and recommended that it be formed of the settlers already 
there. 8 

While Croix and Cabello thus favored Nacogdoches, Mezieres 
advocated re-occupying Bucareli. We have already seen the good 
opinion entertained by him of the site of Bucareli, and his charge 
that the Comanche attack which caused its desertion had been 
brought on by the foolish fears of the Spaniards. Now, in August, 
1779, he visited Nacogdoches to assist the settlers during the ab- 
sence of Ybarbo in pursuit of Comanches, and while there he wrote 
to Croix a gloomy account of the situation of the inhabitants. He 
criticised their location, said that plenty of places safe from flood 
could be found near Bucareli, insisted, as before, on the importance 
of a settlement there to maintain Indian relations and with a view 
to opening up trade with New Orleans, and suggested that the 
people be sent back there and reinforced by a regular garrison and 
Dy the Adaesans who had remained at Bexar. 1 But Mezieres died 

*Croix to Cabello, May 21, 1779, in Expediente sobre el abandono, 12-13. 
2 Cabello to Croix, February 11, 1779, in Expediente sobre el aban- 
dono, 12. 


'Cabello to Croix, May 31, 1779, April 30, 1779, and August 31, 1779 
all in Expediente sobre el abandono, 13, 19, 31. In his letter of May 31, 
In his letter of May 31, Cabello said that he was hardly decided as to the 
respective merits of the two places, but by the time of his next letter he 
had no doubts. 

*He said that the first crop sown at Nacogdoches had failed and that 
the people were "scattered among the Gentile Indians, carrying what they 


Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 135 

soon after the expression of this opinion, 1 and the only effective 
opposition to the occupation of Nacogdoches was removed. 

Only to Navarro, in Chihuahua, did it occur that perhaps, in 
order to fulfill the king's command made seven years before, 
Ybarbo and his people should be brought to the neighborhood of 
Bexar. But even to him this was but a passing thought, and he 
recommended, instead, that choice be made between Bucareli and 
Nacogdoches, and that the decision be left to an impartial observer 
after a careful examination of the two sites. 2 Croix appointed as 
this impartial observer, governor Cabello, whose preference was 
already known. But Cabello found excuses for not performing the 
commission himself or delegating it to any one else, while Croix 
claimed that he knew of no one outside of Texas available to fill 
the place. 3 And thus the matter appears to have dropped by a 
tacit understanding, and the pueblo of Nacogdoches remained un- 

Not only did Croix. and Cabello refrain from breaking up the 
settlement, but, in effect, they legalized its existence by assigning 
Ybarbo a salary and conferring on him a new and more dignified 
title. At Bucareli Ybarbo and his men had served without pay and 
had furnished their own arms and ammunition. Ybarbo claimed, 
besides, that making presents to the Indians and aiding the set- 
tlers had cost him a goodly sum from his own private means. He 
asked, therefore, shortly before leaving the place, that arms and 
ammunition be furnished him and his men, and that they be paid 
for time spent in actual service. Ripperda, and after him his suc- 
cessor, Governor Cabello, supported his request before Croix. Fail- 
ing to secure his demands, Ybarbo now threatened that he would 
leave his post. The effect of this threat discloses the real attitude 
of Cabello and Croix toward Ybarbo's presence on the frontier. 

possess, offering clothing for food, bartering hunger for nakedness" (Ex- 
pediente sobre el abandono . . . y establecer Comercio, 6-8). 

time before January 18, 1780 (Expediente sobre el abandono, 46). 

2 Navarro to Croix, January 17, 1780, in Expediente sobre el abandono, 

Croix to Cabello, January 29, 1780; Cabello to Croix, April 1, 1780; 
Croix to Cabello, January 19, 1780 all in Expediente sobre el abandono, 

Texas Historical Association Quarterly. 

Cabello wrote to the comandante general that it would be unwise 
to let Ybarbo retire, since there was no one else in the province who 
could wield such an influence among the Indians and do so much 
towards keeping them quiet. In consequence of this opinion, Croix 
in October, 1779, assigned Ybarbo a salary of five hundred pesos 
a year. 1 At the same time Cabello conferred on him the title of 
Lieutenant-Go vernor of the Pueblo of Nacogdoches. 2 That he was 
ever formally commissioned to this office I cannot say, but it was 
as such that he was thereafter dealt with by both the governor and 
the comandante general. It is plain, therefore, that Ybarbo was no 
longer remaining on the frontier by mere sufferance, but that, on 
the contrary, he was kept there through the positive desire of Ca- 
bello and Croix to maintain an influence over the Indians of the 

With the occupation of Nacogdoches begins a new and important 
epoch in the history of the Spanish regime on the Texas-Louisiana 
frontier, and of the developments there Nacogdoches instead of 
Adaes becomes the center. The trading house asked for by Ybarbo 
was established and the Indian trade was reorganized. Nacog- 

1 Ybarbo to Croix, October 19, 1778; Ripperda to Croix, October 31, 
1778; Croix to Cabello, January 12, 1779; Cabello to Croix, April 3, 1779 
all in Expediente sobre el abandono, 16-18. Croix to Cabello, January 
16, 1779; Cabello to Croix, March 30, 1779; Croix to Cabello, October 15, 
1779; and Cabello to Croix, December 17, 1779 all in the B6xar Archives. 

2 The first use of this title that I have found was by Cabello in a letter 
to Croix, dated December 17, 1779 (B6xar Archives). He then calls him 
captain of militia and lieutenant governor of the pueblo of Nuestra 
Seflora del Pilar de Nacogdoches. Cabello's letter notifying Ybarbo that 
he had been assigned a salary was dated March 11, 1780. It would seem 
that this letter was considered by Ybarbo as the source of his authority 
and the title to his pay, for in after years, when an attempt was being 
made to remove him, he furnished a copy of the letter as evidence of his 
official standing. That the government also considered this letter as his 
commission would appear from the fact that Governor Pacheco in 1788 
furnished a copy of it as evidence of one of the offices (empleos) that had 
been created in Texas between 1775 and 1787 (Pacheco to Ugalde, May 
29, 1788, in the Bexar Archives). 

In 1797, Ybarbo, in a letter asking permission to resign his post, styled 
himself "Capitan de Milicias, Teniente de Govr. Militar y Politico, Jues 
Delegado de Contravandos y de Comisos, y Justizia Mayor del Pueblo de 
Nacogdoches y su jurisdiocion" (Letter to the viceroy, March 22, 1791, in 
the Be-xar Archives). 

Spanish Abandonment and Re-Occupation of East Texas. 137 

doches, through being made the headquarters for the trade and the 
distribution of presents among the dozen or more tribes in whose 
midst it lay, became the most important Indian agency in the 
province, while Ybarbo, as head of the community, became among 
the Indians of the northeast the most influential Spaniard of his 
day. To Nacogdoches the government now looked for the main- 
tenance of a counter influence among the Indians as a makeweight 
against the Anglo-Americans who made their way to the borders of 
the country; and when, in 1803, the American frontier was car- 
ried clear to Texas, Nacogdoches became equal if not superior in 
importance to Bexar through being at once the outpost for aggres- 
sive movements by the Americans and for resistance by the Span- 
iards. 1 

'It should be noted that before the Louisiana cession in 1803 the Tao- 
vayases country on the upper Red River, as well as the northeast, was 
looked upon as a point of special danger with respect to the Anglo-Ameri-